Konerko hit a grand slam that wrecked Lester's bid for the milestone, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Red Sox 8-2 on Thursday night in a game delayed because of a power failure.
The game was held up for 21 minutes in the sixth inning when most of the stadium lights went out. A power outage in the area was the cause.
Konerko connected for his 39th homer of the season and the ninth grand slam of his career. The fourth-inning shot off Lester (19-9) made it 6-2 and Dayan Viciedo chased the Red Sox ace with a two-run homer in the fifth.
"Konerko saw a lot of pitches and got to [Lester]. It changed the whole complexion of the game. Instead of 2-2, it's 6-2 then he goes back out and gives up the home run. That was enough," Francona said. "He walked a couple then he fell behind Konerko. Konerko has done that to a lot of people. He's dangerous. He ended up giving up a lot of runs but that was a huge sequence."
Lester was trying to become the first Red Sox left-hander in 57 years to win 20 games. He gave up eight runs and nine hits in four-plus innings in his final start of the season.
Lester had the 20 wins on his mind.
"It's something that is there and you can't hide from it. I don't think it had any bearing on the outcome of tonight's game. I just didn't go out and execute pitches," Lester said. "Regardless of whether it's the 20th or first win of the year, that's the main thing it comes down to. I didn't execute pitches and I got myself into a lot of jams I couldn't get out of."
Victor Martinez homered for Boston, which has lost four of five.
Juan Pierre stole three bases, giving him a career-high 66, as the White Sox finished 6-1 against the Red Sox. Chicago has won seven of eight since being eliminated from the AL Central.
White Sox starter John Danks (15-11) pitched six innings and allowed two runs and five hits.
Lester's 15-inning scoreless streak ended in the first inning. Pierre hit a leadoff single, stole second and third and scored on a single by Andruw Jones.
Pierre singled in the third, stole another base and scored on Jones' bloop single.
"I just kept scrapping and trying to grind it out," Konerko said. "Obviously, I wasn't thinking homer when you get down and have two strikes against a guy like that, but I felt good and had a good approach and I kept it and didn't stray away from it when I was up there."
Konerko, who is going to be a free agent after the season, didn't contemplate too much if this will be the last time he was called out of the dugout by White Sox fans.
"Curtain calls are always special. I've been lucky to get a few over the years," Konerko said. "You almost always remember all of them, the good moments, you never know when that last one might be so you definitely enjoy it and try to stay engage in the game."
Before the game, Konerko acknowledged he would like to remain a member of the White Sox but also expressed interest in leaving his options open. Konerko is about to finish his final year of a five-year deal that he re-signed with the White Sox after they won the World Series in 2005. "Obviously it's a business, so they have to figure out payroll stuff and when they do that, then hopefully I'm in their conversation, as far as being brought back," he said. ... Pierre stole 65 bases for the Marlins in 2003. ... Danks and reliever Sergio Santos combined for six consecutive strikeouts in the sixth and seventh innings.