For much of this season, Jon Lester has hardly performed like he did a few years ago for the Boston Red Sox.
When he has, though, it's often been against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Two of Lester's three scoreless outings have come against the Blue Jays, and he'll take a crack at another Wednesday night while looking for his fourth win of 2013 versus Toronto.
Lester (10-7, 4.37 ERA) has had two outings in which the Blue Jays have scored four-plus runs off him, but he's also had a pair where he's shut them down completely. The left-hander went seven strong in a 13-0 win at Rogers Centre on April 7 and only surrendered one hit while going the distance in a 5-0 win May 10.
The Red Sox (72-49) - winners of nine of their last 13 at in Toronto - have given Lester 32 runs of support against the Blue Jays (54-65), but have only provided him 15 runs since the beginning of July as he's gone 2-3 with a 3.77 ERA in seven starts.
They didn't score any for him Thursday at Kansas City as Lester allowed three runs - one earned - in seven innings of a 5-1 loss.
He'll face a Blue Jays lineup struggling in the absence of Colby Rasmus , who could be headed for the disabled list with an injured oblique muscle. Toronto has scored just three runs in two games and is batting .191 since Rasmus - who was hitting .331 since the beginning of July - got hurt.
"We've had some good pitching these last few days but our offense has just dried up," manager John Gibbons said after Tuesday's 4-2 loss in 11 innings.
That's in spite of the fine work of Brett Lawrie , who has hit safely in 14 of Toronto's last 15 games. Lawrie is batting .418 during that stretch to lift his average from .204 to .254.
The Blue Jays, who have already allowed a major-league worst 72 runs in August, may have lost Josh Johnson for the season as well.
With Johnson currently on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right forearm, Toronto will reinsert Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.12) into the starting rotation three days after he was sent to the bullpen. That demotion followed a seven-start stretch in which he went 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA.
Friday marked his shortest start of the season, as he allowed seven runs - including three homers - in three innings of a 14-6 loss to Oakland.
"I can't even use my breaking pitch because I can't even throw it for a strike," Rogers said. "When I'm only using my fastball, everybody can hit the fastball at this level."
Rogers, however, posted his best start of the season against Boston, tossing six scoreless innings in Toronto's 6-2 win at Fenway Park on June 29.
The Blue Jays' biggest problems of late have been in the bullpen. Toronto's relievers have an 8.84 ERA over the last five games, allowing all four runs from the seventh inning on Tuesday.
It was the Red Sox's 28th comeback win of the year and their seventh rally in their past nine victories.
"Much like we've seen of late here, if we get down early we continue to grind, continue to be relentless at the plate, provide or build opportunities," manager John Farrell said.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Matt Thornton||Day-to-Day||Right oblique soreness|
|July 19, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|July 13, 2013||Andrew Bailey||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|July 09, 2013||Alex Wilson||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 10, 2013||Juan Perez||60-Day DL||Torn UCL ligament, left elbow|
|August 07, 2013||Josh Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|August 03, 2013||Steve Delabar||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 02, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee strain|
|July 30, 2013||Dustin McGowan||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 28, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
TORONTO (AP) -- This was one comeback the Boston Red Sox couldn't complete.
Brett Lawrie singled home the winning run in the 10th inning and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Boston 4-3 on Wednesday, handing the AL East leaders their fourth loss in six games.
Brad Lincoln (1-1) worked 1 1-3 innings as the Blue Jays recovered to win after Boston's Mike Napoli hit a game-tying, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth.
The Red Sox rallied for a 4-2 win Tuesday, their seventh comeback victory in nine wins and their 28th comeback of the season.
"I don't really feel like we're ever out of a game," Red Sox starter Jon Lester said. "I feel like we've always got that opportunity, as long as the pitchers keep us within reach."
On Wednesday, however, Boston left the bases loaded in the ninth and stranded runners at first and second in the 10th.
"Late in the game, we continue to put up good at-bats," manager John Farrell said. "Unfortunately, that two-out hit that can make the difference was elusive in both innings."
Toronto won it when Rajai Davis doubled off Brandon Workman (3-2) to begin the 10th and went to third on Jose Bautista 's grounder. Edwin Encarnacion was intentionally walked to bring up Lawrie, who lined a two-strike pitch off the glove of shortstop Stephen Drew , bringing Davis home with the winning run.
"Kind of unfortunate. I thought I had a bead on it and at the very end it started taking off on me," Drew said. "It hit the very end of the web. At first, off the bat, I thought I might be able to catch it out of the air real quick, but there was no shot."
Toronto's sixth walk-off win of the season snapped a five-game losing streak against AL East opponents.
David Ortiz also homered for Boston with a solo blast in the sixth, his 23rd.
Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the ninth, the Red Sox tied it with Napoli's shot off Brett Cecil , who was pitching because closer Casey Janssen had worked the previous two days.
The ninth began with Ortiz thrown out by Cecil after trying for a bunt single.
"Something out of the norm for him, certainly, but given the way he felt and the way (Cecil) pitched him last night, even though he got a base hit up the middle, knew he was going to attack him with some hard stuff running in," Farrell said.
Jonny Gomes walked and Drew struck out before Napoli, dropped to seventh in the order, snapped a 0-for-16 slump by connecting for his first homer since July 24.
"Hopefully that puts him in a good frame of mind," Lester said. "He should be pumped about that, he should be excited."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled, Will Middlebrooks was hit by a pitch and Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield single to load the bases before Lincoln replaced Cecil and got Shane Victorino to fly out.
Demoted to the bullpen last week after his ninth consecutive winless start, Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers returned to the rotation in place of Josh Johnson , who's sidelined with a sore right forearm.
Pitching on his 28th birthday, Rogers allowed one run and five hits in six innings, only to have Napoli's late homer deny him his first win since June 18. He walked one and struck out six.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the third, when Davis took advantage of a pair of Boston throwing errors to circle the bases after hitting an infield single off Lester's leg. Davis advanced all the way to third when Lester's errant throw ended up in foul territory, then scored when Victorino's throw hit Davis and rolled behind third base.
"He's a force when he gets on the basepaths," Farrell said of Davis. "He's disruptive."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons echoed those remarks.
"He gets on and you can't stop him, really," Gibbons said. "He's a special guy. He can do a little bit everything."
Toronto added another run in the fourth. Encarnacion hit a leadoff double and scored when Mark DeRosa blooped a double just beyond the reach of first baseman Napoli.
Ortiz hit a one-out blast off Rogers in the sixth, but the Blue Jays answered in the bottom half when Encarnacion hit another leadoff double and scored on a two-out double by J.P. Arencibia.
Ortiz has 32 career home runs at Rogers Centre, his most at any stadium other then Fenway Park.
Lester came in 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in four starts against Toronto this season, but was unable to extend his run of success. He allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, walked two and struck out three.
"Didn't feel like I had my best stuff tonight, but I was able to minimize damage when I had to and keep the guys within striking distance," Lester said.
NOTES: Boston RHP Clay Buchholz threw almost 50 pitches in a bullpen session before the game, calling it "probably the best day so far" in his recovery from neck and shoulder ailments that have kept him out since June 9. Wednesday was also Buchholz's 29th birthday. ... Toronto placed OF Colby Rasmus (left abdominal strain) on the 15-day DL, recalled INF Munenori Kawasaki from Triple-A Buffalo and selected OF Kevin Pillar from Triple-A. ... The Blue Jays traded utilityman Emilio Bonifacio to Kansas City for a player to be named later. ... Toronto is 7-7 in extra innings. ... Napoli came in with an ML-high 158 strikeouts. Seventh is his lowest spot in the order this season.