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Closing Time: Jon Lester, Red Sox can’t get over the hump against Orioles

06.16.13 at 4:43 pm ET

BALTIMORE — Jon Lester still hasn’t quite fixed things.

After seemingly finding some solutions in recent days, through meetings with pitching coach Juan Nieves and manager John Farrell, Lester still couldn’t break free from the struggles he had experienced in his last five starts (0-3, 6.90 ERA). Sunday, the lefty allowed five runs on nine hits over five innings, paving the way for a 6-3 Red Sox loss to the Orioles, at Camden Yards.

Lester allowed three runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth, departing with a five-run deficit. He entered the game having gone 7-0 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 starts at Camden Yards.

The Sox starter came away feeling like he had taken significant steps in the right direction.

“I think it was a lot better than the linescore as far as the way the ball came out of my hand, the way I felt my stuff was,” said Lester, who struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. “Obviously, the results weren’t here. As far as command of all four pitches, it was there. it was there.”

He noted that the outing was far different than what he had presented in his last appearance, losing to the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“With the exception of Tampa, I think I’ve thrown better than what my linescores showed,” Lester said. “I’ve let an inning here or there get out of — I wouldn’t say a run or two is out of hand, but maybe do some stupid things within that inning to allow them to score a run or two. Obviously the Tampa game is what it is. That’s just one of those deals you try and forget and move on from. If I throw the ball like I did today and go into my start prepared for the Detroit Tigers, I like my chances.

“It can’t be that way forever. The biggest thing I can control is executing that one pitch at that one time. I did that and they got hit. You’ve got to tip your cap.”

The loss was the Red Sox’ fourth on their seven-game road trip, and moved their record against the Orioles to 5-14 over the teams’ last 19 meetings. It was also Baltimore’s sixth consecutive series win against the Sox, with the O’s not having lost back-to-back games against Boston in the teams’ most recent 33 get-togethers.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:


Chris Davis did a good amount of the damage against Lester, first hitting a mammoth, two-run homer in the third inning, and then doubling in Adam Jones in the fifth. Davis had come into the game 0-for-13 against the lefty.

– One of the Red Sox’ hottest hitters, Mike Carp, was forced to leave the game with one out in the seventh after jogging into third. Carp, who had singled earlier in the frame, appeared to be holding his right hamstring upon exiting the game. He was replaced by pinch-runner Shane Victorino. After the game both Farrell and Carp surmised he would be ready to go Tuesday.

“I’ve never done anything to my legs,” Carp said. “I don’t really consider myself fast or anything, so hopefully it’s just a cramp. IT’s been pretty humid the last couple of days, followed by a day game. Don’t feel too concerned about it. Got the rest of tonight off, tomorrow, almost two full days until we have to play again. I’m pretty confident I’ll be back in there Tuesday.”

– After the Red Sox came back to draw within a pair in the seventh, reliever Junichi Tazawa gave one of those runs right back in the home half of the frame. Nick Markakis led off the inning with a double just out of the reach of right fielder Jonny Gomes, was moved to third via Manny Machado’s bunt, and came in when J.J. Hardy rifled a single just past a diving Stephen Drew (who was drawn all the way in on the infield grass).

– The Red Sox couldn’t solve Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez, who shutout the Sox for the first six innings before running into some trouble in the seventh.


– Will Middlebrooks did his best to make a positive impression, blasting a three-run homer in the seventh inning just over the right field wall. The homer, which cut the Orioles’ lead to two runs, was the third baseman’s first since May 19.

“I thought Baltimore’s obviously a good team, good pitching staff,” Middlebrooks said. “Do I think we’re better? Of course. But the ball didn’t bounce our way.”

Jacoby Ellsbury notched a pair of hits, raising his average to .276.

Andrew Miller continued to his strikeout trend, coming on with two outs in the seventh to fan Matt Wieters to end an Orioles’ threat. Miller came into the game with the best strikeouts per nine innings ratio (15.04, trailing only Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman). After striking out Wieters, of the seven outs he had recorded in the Baltimore series, five came by way of the strikeout.

– Farrell said after the game Mike Napoli (illness) had improved and there was optimism that he would be able to play Tuesday.

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