BOSTON -- After getting an extra few days rest following the All-Star break, Red Sox starter Jon Lester appeared ready to turn his season around Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Unfortunately for Lester and the Red Sox his first half struggles carried over into his first outing of the second half as he allowed six runs on seven hits, while walking three in just four innings of work in the Red Sox’ 7-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
“It was a frustrating night for Jon,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “His control just wasn’t there. I don’t know if it was the long lay off or what. Walks are really uncommon for him.”
Lester got off to a tough start as he allowed two runs in the first inning. Back-to-back RBIs from Paul Konerko and Alex Rios plated the first two runs of the game.
Red Sox starting pitchers have now allowed 20 runs (17 earned) in the first inning of their last nine games.
The Red Sox did come back in the bottom half of the first to tie the game at two led by the top two batters in their lineup, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford.
Ellsbury singled and stole second, then Crawford drove him in with an RBI single up the middle. Crawford also stole second and then scored on an RBI single from Adrian Gonzalez.
“The guys did a great job in the first inning picking me up and I didn’t pick them right back up,” said Lester. “I have to get them back in the dugout and I didn’t do it. I haven’t been doing it all year. It has to change.”
Lester’s struggles continued as he allowed another run in the second inning and the big blow came in the fourth when Kevin Youkilis continued his triumphant return to Fenway Park when he blasted a three-run homer into the Monster Seats to give the White Sox a 6-2 lead.
“Youk is a good hitter, we’ve all seen it for a long time,” Lester said. “Bad location. Bad spot. Bad time. All of the above.”
Youkilis finished the game 1-for-4 and is now 4-for-8 in the series.
Chicago starter Philip Humber settled down after the first inning as he went six innings allowing just the two runs on six hits to earn his fourth win of the season. Addison Reed earned his 15th save.
Junichi Tazawa pitched very well in four innings of relief. The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits and struck out four.
The Red Sox did make a game of it late as in the eighth inning Will Middlebrooks blooped an RBI single plating Crawford, which was followed by a pinch-hit two-run home run off the bat of Kelly Shoppach.
Crawford led the Red Sox with three hits, three stolen bases and two runs scored in the loss, while Ellsbury and Gonzalez each had two hits.
The two teams will meet again Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game set.