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Lester Shelled Early And Often

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BOSTON, MA - JULY 22:  Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox takes a moment in between pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game on July 22, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Lester gave up nine runs in the first two innings.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA – JULY 22: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox takes a moment in between pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game on July 22, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Lester gave up nine runs in the first two innings. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (AP) _ Jon Lester stood in the middle of Boston’s quiet
clubhouse and didn’t try to sugarcoat the situation.

“It’s hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys
in the eye right now,” he said after giving up a career-worst 11
runs in the Red Sox’s 15-7 loss to Toronto on Sunday that completed
a three-game series sweep for the Blue Jays.

“I’m not pitching well. I’m not doing my job,” he said. “Guys
scored seven runs today. We should win this game. Like I said, it’s
embarrassing. That’s all I can really say about it.”

Brett Lawrie started Lester’s day off to a poor note, hitting
the game’s first pitch for one of Toronto’s four homers. J.P.
Arencibia, Rajai Davis and Travis Snider also homered for the Blue
Jays.

Toronto manager John Farrell was Boston’s pitching coach from
2007-10 and offered his opinion on what’s wrong with the
left-hander.

“Through our scouting reports and seeing him earlier in the
year, there’s been a little more tendency to miss over the middle
of the plate and up in the strike zone,” Farrell said. “The
devastating cutter that he’s had for so long might not be as sharp
right now and it gains a little length and our hitters are able to
see it a little more on its flight to the plate. We laid off some
tough pitches.”

Lester (5-8) allowed a career-high four homers and nine hits. He
was booed off the field after being pulled with no outs in the
fifth.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia said he spoke to Lester in the
dugout between the first and second innings, hoping to improve his
spirit.

“Basically just telling him that we have his back,” Pedroia
said. “Everyone goes through tough times. Just said, `However many
starts you have the rest of the way, we’re not going to win the
World Series if Jonny’s not himself, if I’m not myself.’ He’s not
going anywhere. He’s our horse.”

Toronto (48-47) posted a season high for runs and climbed out of
the AL East cellar, moving a half-game ahead of the Red Sox
(48-48). The Blue Jays matched their season high with 18 hits.

Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run homer and Jacoby Ellsbury a solo
shot for the Red Sox, who play their next six games on the road
against division leaders.

Boston opens a three-game series against AL West-leading Texas
on Monday and has a three-game set versus the East-leading New York
Yankees next weekend.

Henderson Alvarez (6-7) pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up seven
runs and seven hits.

Lawrie belted a 95 mph fastball completely out of Fenway Park
over the Green Monster. Edwin Encarnacion and Davis sandwiched RBI
doubles around Arencibia’s run-scoring grounder, moving Toronto
ahead 4-0. Jeff Mathis then put down a safety squeeze, scoring
Davis to make it 5-0.

Gonzalez hit a three-run homer in the bottom half, but the Blue
Jays scored four more runs off Lester on consecutive homers by
Arencibia and Davis in the second.

Arencibia hit a three-run shot into the Monster seats after
Lawrie walked leading off and Encarnacion drew a two-out walk. Five
pitches later, Davis homered into the first row of seats above the
left-field wall. After Lester fanned Snider for the final out, he
walked slowly to the dugout to loud boos.

Gonzalez homered about 10 rows into the bleachers behind
Boston’s bullpen.

Mike Aviles’ sacrifice fly made it 9-3 before Snider, the last
batter Lester faced, hit a two-run shot onto a black tarp that
covers two sections of center-field seats during day games to help
the hitters’ background. Lester’s ERA ballooned to 5.46 from 4.80.

In the sixth, Boston made it 11-7 on back-to-back RBI hits by
Aviles and Nick Punto. Toronto added four more runs in the eighth.

The Red Sox finished a seven-game homestand 3-4 after taking
three of four from the Chicago White Sox.

NOTES: Farrell said RF Jose Bautista, placed on the 15-day
disabled list Tuesday with a sore left wrist, is “coming along
better than the medical staff could have envisioned.” … Boston
3B Will Middlebrooks and LF Carl Crawford were both rested. “He’s
been playing a lot since the hamstring,” manager Bobby Valentine
said of Middlebrooks, who missed seven games earlier this month
with a tight left hamstring. “Day game after a night game might be
testing it. I don’t want to test it.” Crawford had played in every
game since coming off the DL for the first time Monday, following
his recovery from left wrist and elbow injuries. … It took nearly
an hour to play the first two innings. … The Blue Jays had the
leadoff batter on in the first five innings _ all against Lester.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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