Jon Lester‘s long and winding road of frustration continued Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. The Orioles jumped on him early and often and the Sox lefty, who hasn’t won a game since May 15, took another one on the chin as the Orioles beat on the Sox 6-3.
The Birds moved their record to 6-2 against the AL East leading Sox
Os starter Miguel Gonzalez hog tied Boston’s offense . Through the sixth inning the Old Towne Team had just two hits, singles by Jacoby Ellsbury, and got only one runner to third base. And speaking of the sixth inning, here’s the way the day went for Boston.
Ellsbury singled and Jose Iglesias reached on a error by Orioles third baseman Machado. It could have turned into a big inning but Os left fielder Steve Pearce snagged a Daniel Nava deep fly ball to left center to squelch a Sox rally. David Ortiz hit a hit a grounder to Chris Davis, which he scooped, to end the inning.
Lester was lifted after the sixth and was replaced by Pedro Beato, who Boston acquired from the New York Mets in 2012. The Mets traded Beato to the Sox as the player to be named later in the trade that sent Kelly Shoppach to the Mets. Beato did his job, retiring the side in the sixth.
The Sox finally got to Gonzalez in the seventh when Will Middlebrooks cracked a three-run homer with Shane Victorino and Jarrod Saltalamacchia aboard. Red Sox injury woes also continued in the seventh inning when Mike Carp was removed after pulling up lame at third base. With Mike Napoli in Boston trying to figure out what is making him light headed and nauseous, there is a serious gap at first base heading into next weeks series against the Rays (double header on Tuesday) and Tigers.
The Orioles broke back in the bottom of the frame against Junichi Tazawa when Markakis doubled – his third hit of the game (four overall) – and moved to third on Machado’s sac bunt. With one out and the infield drawn in, J.J. Hardy poked a single past Stephen Drew to score Markakis to put the Os up 6-3.
Jones hit a ground rule double that actually worked in Boston’s favor since Hardy had to be held at third. Tazawa was lifted for Andrew Miller, who was able to strike out Davis and Wieters to contain the damage.
Orioles relievers Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson stoned the Sox in the eighth and ninth to nail down the win. The game and series underscored some trends that are becoming painfully obvious. First, Boston’s pitching is in trouble. With Clay Buchholz likely heading to the DL and Lester looking ever more shaky, Farrell is about the enter that dark managerial testing period of that turns hair gray. Second, Boston’s injuries and illness are hobbling the club with the Orioles now nipping at their heels and crucial series against the Rays and Tigers on the horizon.