CHICAGO – After retiring the first two batters he faced, it appeared Jon Lester would be picking up where he had left off in his recent starts. Instead he found himself in a three-run deficit by the end of the inning, on his way to his first loss of the season, as the Red Sox fell to the White Sox, 6-4, at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night.
Lester went six innings, giving up seven hits, matching season highs with six runs and five earned runs, three walks, two strikeouts, and a home run. He threw 109 pitches, 70 strikes, as his ERA rose from 2.72 to 3.15. All the runs he allowed came with two outs.
With two outs in the first, Lester gave up a single to Alex Rios and a walk to Paul Konerko before Adam Dunn’s home run to right.
With two outs in the second, Lester gave up three straight doubles – to No. 9 hitter Tyler Greene, Alejandro De Aza, and Alexei Ramirez.
And then, again with two outs, in the fifth, Lester allowed another run. Ramirez led off by reaching on Will Middlebrooks’ error, and Rios walked before being erased when Konerko grounded into a double play. After a walk to Dunn, Dayan Viciedo’s single scored Ramirez for an unearned run.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense appeared lethargic for most of the game. Through the first six innings, Sox batters had just four hits, two by Jarrod Saltalamacchia (home run, single), and a single each from Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino.
White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod kept the Sox batters in check for most of his outing. He went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Axelrod earned the win, improving to 2-3, lowering his ERA from 4.27 to 4.13.
Saltalamacchia’s third-inning home run, his fifth of the season, scored Stephen Drew, who had walked.
The Sox added to their production in the seventh, when lefty Matt Thornton relieved Axelrod, walking the first two batters he faced, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. With one out, Middlebrooks’ double off the left field wall drove both in.
But that was all they would get. Addison Reed earned his 15th save with a scoreless ninth, giving up a lead-off single to Napoli.
Victorino left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with hamstring tightness.
STAR OF THE GAME: Dylan Axelrod
Axelrod went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Axelrod earned the win, improving to 2-3, lowering his ERA from 4.27 to 4.13. He retired eight straight batters to begin the game before a walk to Drew and Middlebrooks’ home run.
It marked the first time in his career he has won consecutive starts.
HONORABLE MENTION: Adam Dunn
Dunn went 1-for-3 with a three-run home run with two outs in the first inning.
In his last seven games he is hitting .360, going g 9-for-25, with five home runs, 13 RBI, and six runs scored.
THE GOAT: Jon Lester
Lester took his first loss of the season, falling to 6-1 in 10 starts. He went six innings, giving up seven hits, matching season highs with six runs and five earned runs, along with three walks, two strikeouts, and a home run. He threw 109 pitches, 70 strikes, as his ERA rose from 2.72 to 3.15. All the runs he allowed came with two outs.
In 10 career starts against the White Sox, he has an ERA of 5.43, giving up 37 earned runs over 61 1/3 innings, his highest mark against any American League team.
THE TURNING POINT
With two outs in the first inning, Lester gave up a hit to Alex Rios and a walk to Paul Konerko, before Dunn’s 11th home run of the season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5-0
The Red Sox were outscored 5-0 in the first two innings, after holding +28 run (64-36) differential in the first two innings entering the game.
QUOTE OF NOTE
“I didn’t execute the pitch [to Adam Dunn] in the first inning. That changed the whole momentum of the game.” – Jon Lester