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Rangers 18, Red Sox 3

Tee time

Texas belts six home runs in runaway win over Sox

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / April 18, 2012
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It was hard to say who had the more brutal night on the mound for the Red Sox: Jon Lester, the starter who was gone after two innings, or Mark Melancon, the third reliever in the game who got unmercifully shelled in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s hideous 18-3 loss to the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park.

It wasn’t even a hit-or-miss proposition, but more like miss-and-hit.

Lester and Melancon missed their pitches against the Rangers, who hit them savagely as the two Sox hurlers combined to give up 13 runs on 12 hits, six walks and four homers, three off Melancon in the eighth inning.

“I can’t describe this one,’’ said Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who was bereft of words after he watched the Rangers rally from a 2-0 first-inning deficit by scoring 16 unanswered runs while banging out 21 hits and five home runs, including a pair by first baseman Mike Napoli, who went 3 for 5 and added a walk with four RBIs and three runs scored.

Lester (0-2, 5.82 ERA) coughed up the 2-0 lead Dustin Pedroia had given him with his two-run homer in the first off Colby Lewis. Lester allowed four runs on five hits, including a tying two-run homer to Napoli, in a protracted second inning in which the Rangers sent 10 men to the plate. It drove Lester’s pitch count to 63, which was exacerbated by Adrian Beltre’s 12-pitch at-bat before he singled to center.

“I wasn’t going to send him out for the third until he said he was fine and could go back out there,’’ Valentine said. “But he had limited pitch [count] there.’’

Lester was gone after facing three batters, issuing back-to-back walks to Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba to load the bases for Craig Gentry, thus ending his night after 80 pitches and two-plus innings. It matched his shortest stint as a starter (and third overall with the Sox) since giving up nine runs on eight hits in two innings in a 16-2 loss against the Blue Jays Aug. 20, 2010.

“It was one of those nights where I flat-out stunk,’’ Lester said. “When I did make the adjustment and tried to get back into the zone, it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t a good night for me.’’

Melancon’s cameo appearance in the eighth proved just as disastrous when he sparked an eight-run outburst by the Rangers by serving up three home runs, including back-to-back shots to Josh Hamilton, whose three-run blast into the right-field bleachers made it 11-2, and Beltre, whose homer to center made it 12-2.

After walking David Murphy, who pinch-hit for an ailing Michael Young (back stiffness), Melancon’s night was done when he served up a meatball to Cruz for a two-run shot that made it 14-2. He departed to an angry chorus of boos from the crowd of 38,229 after facing six batters, getting no outs, and giving up a career-high six runs on four hits, including the three homers.

“He’s in one of those deals right now where he gets behind in the count, and I’m sure he feels like make a quality pitch and he gets hit hard,’’ Lester said of Melancon. “We’ve all been there. It’s not a good thing to go through. I’ve had my fair share of them.’’

As he walked off the field, a mind-boggling 49.50 earned run average glared at Melancon from the scoreboard in center.

“He’s really concerned and I’m very concerned, obviously,’’ Valentine said of Melancon. “He’s not getting the swing and miss. It seems like he’s searching right now and so are we.’’

The Sox, meanwhile, managed 10 hits and scored all three runs on homers by Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez, whose solo shot off Koji Uehara in the eighth marked his second of the season.

By then, however, the damage had been done.

Lewis overcame his rocky start to retire 17 of the next 21 batters he faced, striking out six, while allowing four hits during that stretch.

The Sox threatened to score in the fourth when Cody Ross reached on an infield hit and Jason Repko ripped a two-out single to left. Repko, however, wound up getting thrown out at second by Hamilton when he attempted to stretch his hit into a double.

Scott Atchison, who was summoned to extricate Lester from his mess, seemed to settle things for the Sox when he kept Texas off the board in the fifth. Atchison got tagged for a solo homer by Young that made it 8-2 in the sixth , effectively extinguishing any faint hope the crowd had for a comeback.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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