Jon Lester Suffers First Career Loss to Orioles After Red Sox Offense Fails to Deliver


Jon Lester Suffers First Career Loss to Orioles After Red Sox Offense Fails to Deliver

Editor's
note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby
Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up
the day for the Red Sox.

BOSTON — With the exception of two innings,
Jon Lester came through against the Orioles.

But as it's been all year, it wasn't quite enough. During Friday's 4-2 loss, Lester tossed seven strong innings,
striking out three batters while yielding four runs — two in the fourth and
two in the sixth.

As far as Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is
concerned, he's satisfied with Lester's progress over the past two months. It's
a far cry from the string of miserable starts that he experienced back in July.

"Every time I go out there, I
learn something about myself, about the other team, and just the adjustments we
had to make at the All-Star break, just continue to work on those," Lester
said. "I’ll try to pitch as many innings as I can. That’s all I can
control."

This loss, however, resulted
in Lester's first career loss against Baltimore. Coming into Friday's game, the
southpaw owned a spotless 14-0 record versus the Orioles in 20 career starts,
the longest active win streak by any active pitcher against a franchise.

A lack of offensive support
hurt his cause. Despite RBI singles from Pedro Ciriaco and Dustin Pedroia, the
Red Sox couldn't answer back when the Orioles peeled off two runs in the sixth
inning.

Jon Lester Suffers First Career Loss to Orioles After Red Sox Offense Fails to DeliverIn the bottom of the ninth — with a man on base — Red Sox pinch hitter Mauro Gomez missed his chance to
deliver and struck out against Orioles closer Jim Johnson, essentially sealing
Lester's fate.

"I die with him every time he's out
there," Valentine said of Lester. "We don't get the runs in double
digits to give him a cushion and he has to make every pitch a crucial pitch and
every once in awhile it just doesn’t work for him."

And for Lester, it came down to two pitches
against catcher Matt Wieters.

During the fourth inning, the Orioles
backstop rifled a single that drove in J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Two innings
later, Wieters uncorked a fastball for a double that brought Jones home once
again.

Aside from those at-bats, Lester would've
cruised all night long. But even after the game, the hurler insisted the
pitches to Wieters nailed their intended spots and indirectly attributed the
outcome to bad luck.

"[The pitches] were where
I was trying to go with them," Lester said. "He did a good job of
sticking his nose on one and hitting it down the line, and then he turned on
one. I’ve just got to keep trying to execute the pitch. The process was there.
The intent was there. The game plan was there. It just didn’t work."

So the search for his elusive 10th win of the year
continues.

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