By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
Boston -- John Lackey took the loss as the Sox fell to the Rays, 4-0, Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park, snapping a six-game win streak over his seven previous starts. He went 6 23 innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts, a wild pitch and two hit batters. He also tied a season high with two home runs.
It was his eighth quality start in 21 outings this season. He has held opponents to three runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts since July 9, going 6-1 with a 3.93 ERA in that stretch.
Hes been giving us about the same every time out, Francona said. He gives up the last run, which is the fourth run, but they kind of one-runned him to death. But on a lot of nights thats plenty good enough for us to win. Good velocity coming out of the chute today.
The two hit batters give him 16 total this season, tied for fifth-highest ever by a Sox pitcher in one season. He also threw a season-high 125 pitches, the second highest total of his career, after 131 pitches against the Rangers one Aug. 9, 2009, while with the Angels.
Jacoby Ellsburys triple leading off the sixth inning, landed in the triangle in deep center field, bouncing around before Rays' center fielder B.J. Upton could retrieve it. Ellsbury had thoughts of an inside-the-park home run, but third base coach Tim Bogar held him at third.
I had my back turned, Ellsbury said. Bogies my eyes in that situation. So, obviously if hes going to send me hes going to do it when Im halfway between second and third. But its definitely a hard decision.
It was his third triple of the season.
His third-inning steal of second base gave him 32 for the season, and 168 in his career, tying him with Carl Yastrzemski for third on the Sox all-time list. Only Harry Hooper (300) and Tris Speaker (267) have more stolen bases with the Sox.
Ellsbury had an extra-base hit in all three games of the series, the first time he has had an extra-base hit in three straight home games. He leads the Sox with 25 extra-base hits, 10 home runs and 38 RBI since June 30.
Alfredo Aceves struck out the side in the eighth inning, the first time with the Red Sox and third time in his career he has done so.
Gonzalez has been feeling a little beat up, Francona implied. He said a neck issue, which has nagged Gonzalez, may be affecting the first baseman's power at the plate.
"I think he still feels it, but I think about every player in the league right now is probably not perfect," Francona said. "Thats just the way it is, especially guys that play every inning of every day. It may have cut into his power a little bit but you play and you continue to play. If theres ever a chance when we can give them a couple of days off wed probably do it. Probably not a good time to do it right now."
While Gonzalez is batting .281, going 16-for-57 in 15 games this month, he has just four extra-base hits, all doubles. He has not hit a home run since July 30 in Chicago, his only homer since the All-Star break. He has just seven doubles since then.
J.D. Drew, on the DL since July 20 with a left shoulder impingement, will travel with the team to Kansas City. He has been taking batting practice in the cage, but has not progressed to on-field BP. He is expected to do so in Kansas City. After that he will be reevaluated before being sent on a rehab assignment, which will be determined by the medical staff, Francona said.
Left-hander Rich Hill, who had Tommy John surgery in June, will stay in Boston to continue his rehab and meet up with the team in Texas.
Left-hander Andrew Miller is scheduled to start Fridays game in KC. He has not since July 31 against the White Sox in Chicago and has pitched just three innings since then, 2 23 innings against the Indian s on Aug. 4 and a third of an inning on Aug. 10. Francona said Miller will be monitored in his outing.
Well certainly keep an eye on him, Francona said. There's certainly been enough time in between where . . . we keep an eye on him. Hes going to throw an extended side today. Hes thrown, warmed up a lot. Hasnt necessarily been in games but it shouldnt get in the way. I think what happens is say he throws 85-90-95 pitches, I just think you come out of that start a little more sore than normal . . . or stiff. Thats probably a better word.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.