Lester just out of time

Short warm-up led to quick loss

By Ben Collins
Globe Correspondent / June 19, 2009
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Jon Lester had already trudged through five innings of messy, two-run baseball in a drenched Fenway Park last night.

He didn’t want to trudge through the messy postgame press conference that followed. So he left.

Who could blame him? Manager Terry Francona acknowledged that Lester’s warm-up was sped up. The tarp was pulled from the infield minutes before the scheduled start time, and the umpires held both teams to it.

“Things were rushed,’’ said Francona. “He was even a few minutes late getting ready just because it was difficult for him to get ready. I didn’t think he commanded very well.’’

Following four starts in which Lester gave up five earned runs combined, he allowed two second-inning home runs - to Dan Uggla and Ronny Paulino - and five hits in the first three innings.

Jason Varitek attributes some of the command troubles to the rain.

“It was just pouring on us in the first part of the game,’’ he said. “We didn’t get into a great rhythm until later in the game.’’

But Lester settled down in his final three innings and didn’t allow a run. He was outdueled by Marlins’ Opening Day starter Ricky Nolasco, who gave up a home run to Kevin Youkilis and nothing else - but the final tally wouldn’t show it.

Lester’s line looked like a decent start: 114 pitches, four strikeouts, and two earned runs. But there are no stats for resiliency. It will show up as a loss all the same, moving Lester to 5-6.

“He found a way to still give us a chance to win,’’ said Francona.

That’s why the decision to call the game was a tough one to take. The 2-1 loss left players yelling in the locker room after hearing the news, hoping for a shot to post another run. The Sox had won seven of their last eight games; Lester had won his last three, and four of his last five.

“It [stinks] because it’s a one-run game,’’ said Varitek. “But you can’t do anything about the elements.’’

Lester was in line to be relieved by Justin Masterson had the rain stopped. Nolasco likely wouldn’t have resumed pitching after the delay.

“[Nolasco] was fantastic. The way their guy was throwing - and you know he can’t come back - that’s frustrating,’’ said manager Terry Francona.

Lester was in the parking lot when he was called to the interview room, but he was already in his car and on his way out. And, at least this time, he was ready to go.

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