|Closing Time: Jon Lester, Red Sox continue to tread water with loss to Rangers||08.07.12 at 10:31 pm ET|
Jon Lester and the Red Sox just can’t seem to find their happy place for very long this season.
Lester turned in a solid outing (leaving with two outs in the seventh inning having given up three runs), but he and the Sox came up on the short end, dropping a 6-3 decision to the Rangers Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Not helping matters was a Red Sox bullpen — Mark Melancon, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa — which allowed the Rangers to pull away in the last 2 1/3 innings with four hits, one walk, two runs and one failed chance to strand an inherited runner.
The loss drops the Red Sox back below .500 (55-56), and snaps their two-game win streak.
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox in their loss:
WHAT WENT WRONG
- After doubling with one out in the first inning, Carl Crawford was caught napping when leading off second base. While the outfielder was gazing at the ground, taking a lead, Dempster picked off Crawford for the frame’s second out.
- With one out in the sixth inning, Ian Kinsler launched Lester’s 73rd pitch high off the left field wall, scoring David Murphy with the game’s first run. Murphy had reached via a double into the left field corner to lead off the frame.
- After not getting a called third strike on a 2-2 fastball, Lester allowed Josh Hamilton to rifle a run-scoring single into right field, scoring Kinsler. The two-out, sixth-inning base hit came on the lefty’s 85th pitch. After the inning was over, Lester could be seen shouting toward home plate umpire Lance Barrett while walking off the field.
- Murphy struck again in the seventh, hitting a sacrifice fly to deep left field, scoring Michael Young with the Rangers’ third run. Young had reached on a one-out walk, moving to third when Geovany Soto executed a perfect hit-and-run for a single.
- Kinsler capped Lester’s line by rifling an RBI single off the left field wall with two outs in the seventh inning. The second baseman was the first batter faced by reliever Mark Melancon, who came on for Lester.
- Melancon experienced a rough outing, not only giving up the RBI hit in the seventh, but then coming back in the eighth — after the Red Sox had drawn within a run — and surrendered a run-scoring single to Nelson Cruz. It marked the first time in his last four outings the reliever had allowed a run.
- Up until Will Middlebrooks’ three-run homer in the seventh, Ryan Dempster had baffled Red Sox hitters. The newly-acquired Texas righty followed up his seven-inning, shutout performance of the Sox in Chicago on June 15 with 6 2/3 shutout innings before the homer.
- Dustin Pedroia was ejected from the game for the second time in his career, carrying over a complaint to first base umpire Paul Nauert from an appealed called third strike in the eighth inning into the ninth.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Middlebrooks jumped all over the first pitch he saw from Dempster, sending it just over the left field wall for a three-run homer. The third baseman was pinch-hitting for Nick Punto with two outs in the seventh inning. The play was reviewed by the umpires, who came back to confirm the original call that
- Lester turned in his third straight decent start, allowing four runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. The lefty had given up just two hits through five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth and seventh frames. He has not allowed 11 earned runs over his last 20 2/3 innings (three starts). The final run came with the starter in the dugout with reliever Mark Melancon giving the RBI single to Kinsler.
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