BOSTON -- A disconcerting aspect of Jon Lester’s performance this season is the number of times the Red Sox left-hander has been given a lead and has been unable to hold it.
It has happened six times in his 12 starts this season, including in Tuesday night's 8-6, 10-inning loss to the Orioles. Lester, who gave up a couple of unearned runs early, had a 4-3 lead entering the seventh, when he gave up a leadoff single to Endy Chavez, the ninth batter in the Orioles’ order, who came into the game hitting .120. Bobby Valentine lifted Lester, but the tying run scored when Scott Atchison gave up singles to the next two hitters, the run charged to Lester.
The Sox had just taken the lead in their previous at-bat, which has also been a part of the pattern.
Here are the other five instances in which Lester could not hold a lead, and a sixth in which the Sox rallied to tie, only to have Lester give it up.
April 11, 3-1 loss at Toronto
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but the Jays scored twice in the bottom of the inning on a single, wild pitch, a triple by Rajai Davis and a sacrifice fly. Lester took the loss.
April 17, 18-3 loss to Texas
Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run home run in the first inning, but the Rangers sent 10 men to the plate in a four-run second and tacked on three more in the third. Lester took the loss.
April 23, 6-5 win at Minnesota
The Sox led 3-0 after two, but the Twins scored four in the fourth on a two-run double by Ryan Doumit and two-run homer by Danny Valencia, then added a run in the fifth. The Sox rallied to win; Lester was not involved in the decision.
May 4, 6-4 loss to Baltimore (13 innings)
After the Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second, Mark Reynolds led off the third with a home run. The Sox then took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third. But Lester went Adam Jones walk, Matt Wieters triple, Wilton Betemit single to the first three hitters in the fourth as the Orioles tied the score. Lester was not involved in the decision.
May 9, 4-3 loss at Kansas City
The Sox spotted the Royals three unearned runs in the first, then rallied to tie it in the third. But in the home fourth, the Royals scored what proved to be the winning run when Irving Falu led off with a double and scored on a double by Alcides Escobar. Lester took the loss.
May 30, 6-4 win over Detroit
The Sox trailed 3-0, then rallied to take the lead on two-run home runs by David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks. The Tigers tied it in the seventh, when Lester gave up back-to-back hits to start the inning, Alex Avila was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double and Gerald Laird followed with another double. Lester struck out the next batter, but was in the dugout when the Tigers tied it on a bloop double by Miguel Cabrera off Matt Albers. The run was charged to Lester, who was not involved in the decision.
One other Lester note: Fenway Park has not been hospitable to the left-hander so far this season. In six home starts, he has a 1-2 record and 6.42 ERA. Opposing hitters have a .324/.368/.518/.886 line against Lester here, as opposed to a career home line of .255/.325/.387/.713.