Jon Lester couldn't lose during the first six weeks of the season, but lately he can't win for the Boston Red Sox.
A pair of left-handers heading in opposite directions take the mound Thursday night in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
Lester went 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his first nine starts but is 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in the last three. He allowed four runs and walked four in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
"Bad pitches, behind in the count, not having command of the baseball. The list goes on," said Lester, who has yielded 23 hits and walked eight over 19 1-3 innings in the last three outings.
Lester (6-2, 3.53 ERA) is 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA in his last four starts against the Rangers (36-22). He gave up three runs on two homers, walked three and struck out seven over six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-3 loss in Texas on May 5.
Holland went 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts last month, starting May 3 when he allowed six hits and struck out nine in eight innings of a 7-0 victory over Boston (36-24).
Since Holland (5-2, 2.81) allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-1 loss in his first start against Boston on June 6, 2009, he is 5-0 with a 1.73 ERA against the Red Sox. He's yielded a two-run homer and five other hits over 14 innings to win his last two at Fenway.
The only earned run Holland allowed through 13 2-3 innings while winning his last two starts overall came across seven frames of a 7-2 victory over Kansas City on Friday.
"He's certainly pitching well. He was outstanding again," manager Ron Washington said. "Once again, he stayed out of the fat part of the plate, and off the fat part of the bat for the most part.
"If Yu Darvish wasn't on the staff we have right now, I guess you'd say Derek would probably be the ace."
A night after losing 17-5, Texas got a tiebreaking, two-run double from Elvis Andrus in the seventh inning of a 3-2 win Wednesday. Mired in a 1-for-18 slump, Andrus had two hits to help the Rangers secure their best record through 58 games.
"It was a huge win for us," Andrus said. "We're really good at trying to turn the page and be ready for the next game. That's the way we've had success so far the last couple of years."
Andrus was 2 for 26 with 10 strikeouts in his first eight games at Fenway but is hitting .410 with eight RBIs in his last 10 there. However, he's 5 for 22 (.227) against Lester.
The Red Sox produced a season-high 19 hits in the series opener but were held to five while their three-game winning streak was snapped.
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia homered Wednesday and is batting .368 with three home runs and 18 RBIs while hitting safely in 25 of his last 27 games. He's 2 for 17 with a homer against Holland.
Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland could miss this game after he left Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring. He's 9 for 18 with two homers against the Red Sox in 2013, taking Lester deep last month.
|June 05, 2013||Mitch Moreland||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|June 01, 2013||Adrian Beltre||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
|May 18, 2013||Ian Kinsler||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|May 16, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|May 16, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|May 06, 2013||A.J. Pierzynski||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|Boston Red Sox|
|May 31, 2013||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Tight left groin|
|May 26, 2013||Clay Buchholz||Day-to-Day||Right collarbone pain|
|May 24, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Low back strain|
|May 23, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 21, 2013||Shane Victorino||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|May 20, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
BOSTON (AP) -- David Ortiz stood in the on-deck circle as Texas intentionally walked Dustin Pedroia , hoping the move to put runners on first and second with nobody out would result in the Boston slugger grounding into a double play.
Ortiz did not oblige, driving the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer that lifted the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night after trailing by three runs.
It was his 11th career walkoff home run and first in nearly four years.
"They don't like to mess with Papi late in the game. They stopped doing that," Ortiz said. "In that kind of situation, pretty much most of the time it's either a walk or something else happens. I just keep my patience."
Jonny Gomes led off the ninth with a double to center off left-hander Michael Kirkman (0-2), who then walked Pedroia intentionally with Ortiz watching and waiting. After going 0 for 3 with a walk, Ortiz delivered a shot that landed in an empty Texas bullpen.
Ortiz watched his homer for a few moments before trotting his way toward home where he was met by a swarm of celebrating teammates.
"I think it was a good move. I don't think there was anything wrong with that," Ortiz said of the walk to Pedroia. "It's part of the game. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't."
It certainly did not Thursday.
"Apparently he was just sitting on that pitch," Kirkman said. "I thought it was a really good pitch - good movement inside, right where I wanted it. He just got the barrel to it."
Andrew Bailey (2-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for Boston, which took two of three from Texas.
Jacoby Ellsbury scored the tying run on a fielder's choice in the seventh inning of his first game after sitting out five straight because of a groin injury. Ellsbury had a pair of doubles and two singles. Gomes also had four hits and Pedroia hit a two-run double in the third.
Jeff Baker and Adrian Beltre drove in all of Texas' runs on early homers off of Jon Lester . The Rangers didn't score after Beltre's solo homer in the third and the Rangers' bullpen couldn't hold off Boston down the stretch.
Texas manager Ron Washington said pitching around the right-handed Pedroia for the left-on-left matchup between Kirkman and Ortiz seemed he best option.
"It's not the first left-hander Big Papi got, but that was the right move to make right there," Washington said. "It was the only move to make. I can live with Papi doing that."
Texas led 3-2 until Ellsbury scored in the seventh when Mike Napoli beat out the throw on a grounder that would have ended the inning after Boston loaded the bases with one out. Napoli hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Lance Berkman , who bounced his throw to Elvis Andrus covering second.
"We had a couple of opportunities and we were finally able to cash in," Boston manager John Farrell said.
Jon Lester survived a rocky first few innings and pitched through the sixth for Boston, leaving with the Red Sox trailing 3-2 on Baker's two-run homer in the second and a solo shot by Beltre in the third. Lester also had to get himself out of trouble in the first by striking out Nelson Cruz after a two-out walk to Berkman and a single by Beltre.
Boston got two back with two outs in the third when Pedroia doubled off the center field wall after Jose Iglesias reached on a walk and Ellsbury singled.
Lester allowed three runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out four.
Texas starter Derek Holland 's line was nearly identical. He allowed two runs on nine hits, also walking three and striking out four. Holland was 5-0 against Boston entering the game.
NOTES: Ortiz last hit a walkoff homer against the White Sox on Aug. 26, 2009. ... The Rangers placed 1B Mitch Moreland on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained right hamstring and called up 1B Chris McGuinness from Triple-A Round Rock. ... Lester was making his 200th career start, the third LHP in Red Sox history to reach the mark. ... The Rangers had already clinched the season series against Boston for the fifth straight year with a 3-2 win Wednesday. ... Baker's homer in the second was his fourth in the last nine games. ... Iglesias' single in the sixth increased his hitting streak to 10 straight games. ... Ellsbury had been out since setting a club record with five stolen bases last week in a victory over Philadelphia.