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Red Sox notebook

More tough luck for Lester

He pitches well again, takes loss

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 12, 2012
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TORONTO - Jon Lester has pitched 15 innings this season and allowed four runs. That hasn’t been good enough to get a victory for the Red Sox.

On Wednesday, Lester went eight innings against the Blue Jays, a team he almost always pitches well against, but took the loss in a 3-1 game. The lefthander gave up three runs on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

“He was great,’’ said teammate David Ortiz. “We just didn’t help him.’’

Lester didn’t get a decision on Opening Day, when he matched pitches with Detroit ace Justin Verlander in a game the Sox lost, 3-2. On Wednesday, he was outdueled by Jays ace Ricky Romero.

Lester’s only bad inning was the third. Eric Thames singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a triple by No. 9 hitter Rajai Davis, who lined a high fastball to right field.

Yunel Escobar followed with a sacrifice fly to right.

“A couple of balls I left up they hit and they ended up scoring some runs,’’ Lester said. “You can’t do that against guys like Romero and Verlander. It makes it too hard on our offense.’’

Trailing, 2-1, in the eighth inning, Lester walked Davis with two outs. When Davis took off for second, Lester was turning to throw to first.

Lester made a slow, looping throw, and Adrian Gonzalez had to rush his throw to second. It short-hopped Dustin Pedroia, and Davis was safe. Davis then scored on Escobar’s single.

Had the Red Sox executed the play better, Davis would have been out and the inning over.

“Hindsight’s 20-20,’’ said Lester when asked about his soft toss. “I really wasn’t expecting him to go. It was just kind of a show-me move to let him know we were thinking about him.

“If I throw a little harder, maybe I give Gonzo a better chance to make a better throw.’’

Lester has problems throwing to first, something the coaches tried to address in spring training.

“We’re working on a play where he throws a little harder,’’ said manager Bobby Valentine. “He’s getting used to that.’’

Lester isn’t to blame. But the Sox are off to another slow start, and he is frustrated.

“What do you want me to talk about?’’ said Lester. “We’re 1-5. We’re not playing good right now.

“The games we pitch well, we don’t hit. The games we don’t pitch well, we hit. We haven’t put it together right now. Nobody in this clubhouse wants to start slow, regardless of years past.

“Like we said last year, it sucks to hear, but it’s a long season. We’re going to show up on Friday.’’

Not catching on

Catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach are 2 for 20 with one extra-base hit, one run, no RBIs, and nine strikeouts. Shoppach was 0 for 3 Wednesday and didn’t execute a bunt in the third inning. He also was charged with a passed ball. Six games are not enough to make any judgments or merit any changes. Valentine liked what he saw of Ryan Lavarnway in spring training, but in five games with Triple A Pawtucket, he was 2 for 16 with one RBI.

Mound moves

Andrew Miller has been assigned to Pawtucket and is scheduled to pitch at Rochester Thursday. The lefthanded reliever, who is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, made two appearances with Single A Greenville. Rich Hill, on the way back from Tommy John surgery, has been assigned to High A Salem and is set to pitch on Friday.

Pitcher gets hit

Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson, who is scheduled to start against the Red Sox Saturday, was struck in the head by a batted ball during batting practice in Detroit while throwing in the bullpen. He was taken to a hospital for tests and will have a follow-up examination Thursday. He was attended to by paramedics after going down when the ball hit him. “I’ll be out there Saturday,’’ Hellickson told reporters. Rays manager Joe Maddon said a decision would be made Thursday. The Red Sox are starting Clay Buchholz Saturday.

Mirror image

The Sox have allowed 38 runs, the same amount they gave up last season in their 0-6 start . . . The Sox are 3-14 in their last 17 road games . . . The Blue Jays have won six of their last nine games against the Sox . . . Former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek turned 40 Wednesday.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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