Lester continued a shaky stretch Monday night when he struggled with his fastball command and allowed seven runs in 5 2/3 innings during a 7-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox in Fenway Park. He has yielded at least four earned runs in four of his last five starts and hasn't gone more than six innings in any of those appearances.
Nevertheless, manager Terry Francona had enough confidence to allow Lester to throw a season-high 127 pitches. Lester's previous high this season was 114. With two outs in the sixth inning, Alexei Ramirez blooped Lester's final pitch over first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's head in shallow right field, allowing two runs to score.
Lester issued four walks and hit two batters, a product of his inability to command his fastball. Francona said Lester was "scattering a lot of pitches."
"It was just one of those nights where I just battled myself and couldn't get in a rhythm," Lester said. "The ball was up. When I actually did throw it over the plate, it was up."
Lester will get extra rest over the next week. Because of days off Thursday and next Monday, he won't start until next Tuesday in the series opener against the New York Yankees.
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