For the fifth time this year, the Sox have fallen in a game that offered them the opportunity to get over the .500 mark, falling 7-4 to the Rays behind a terrible Jon Lester.
After the first inning saw the Red Sox jump on top 1-0 with Jon Lester recording three outs on eight pitches and Kevin Youkilis knocking in the run, Sox fans may have been feeling optimistic about this one. One of their best pitchers on the mound and looking good, and the third baseman keeping Will Middlebrooks out of the lineup providing an offensive punch--everything was going fine.
Then the strike zone shrunk on Lester in the third and, rather than react and adapt, he simply stared in at the ump, threw another pitch looking to paint the corners, and then walked another batter. Loading the bases in the third, Lester fell behind to Matt Joyce 2-0, then 3-1, and with nowhere to put him, grooved a fastball middle-middle. Joyce didn't miss, and dropped a grand slam into the bullpen for the 4-1 lead.
Things would get no better for Lester in the fourth, as he hung curveballs to both Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena, resulting in back-to-back shots that had the Rays up 7-1.
The Sox would fight their way back within striking distance as Scott Atchison held the Rays for the middle innings. Picking up a run on an Adrian Gonzalez wall ball in the fifth, and then adding two more when J.P. Howell walked the first two batters in the sixth, the Sox pulled within three runs with three innings to go.
Unfortunately, that was where the scoring would stop. Franklin Morales plunking Luke Scott would draw the benches onto the field, where the coaching staffs would be the main belligerents, but the Sox would get no more offense, with Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney closing out the last two innings without allowing a baserunner.