Jon Lester had one of his roughest outings of the season Monday night. (AP)
CHICAGO — As well as things had been going for the Red Sox, they sure went the other way in a hurry Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Adam Dunn put the Red Sox and their starter, Jon Lester, in a first-inning hole via a three-run hole, and the White Sox never looked back. Chicago went on to claim the series opener, 6-4, snapping the Sox’ five-game win streak.
Lester not only gave up the three runs in the first, but came back and allowed two more in the second. The lefty finished his six-inning outing giving up six runs (5 earned) on seven hits, striking out a pair and walking three. The outing boosted Lester’s ERA from 2.72 to 3.15, while handing him his first loss of the season.
Offensively, the best the Red Sox could do against White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod was a two-run, opposite field home run from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the third inning. Axelrod had also pitched well in his only other start against the Red Sox, allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings on July 16 of last season.
The White Sox came into the game having won the opening game of a series just three times in 14 chances. The Red Sox, meanwhile, came in tied with the Cardinals for best road record (14-7), having won six of their seven series away from Fenway Park.
Also not helping matters for the Red Sox was the fact Shane Victorino was forced from the game with left hamstring tightness. The right fielder was taken out during warm-ups leading into the home half of the sixth inning, having just legged out an infield single earlier in the frame.
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox in their 18th loss of the season (27-18):
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Dunn’s home run was just the designated hitter’s third hit of the season against a left-handed pitcher, two of which have been home runs.
- The White Sox managed their two runs in the second all with two outs. After retiring Jeff Keppinger and Tyler Flowers on ground outs, Lester surrendered three consecutive doubles, from Tyler Greene, Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez.
- Will Middlebrooks’ seventh error of the season, coming on a Ramirez grounder to lead off the fifth inning, ultimately led to the White Sox’ sixth run. Ramirez would steal second and eventually come in on Dayan Viciedo’s single. The seven errors tie Middlebrooks with Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas for most in the American League by a third baseman.
- Jacoby Ellsbury had another tough night, grounding out to second four times.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Middlebrooks helped the Red Sox draw within a pair of runs when he lined a double off the top of the left field wall, just out of the reach of Viciedo. With the ball bouncing back toward the infield after the misguided attempt, both David Ortiz and Mike Napoli (both of whom had walked), came home. Of the third baseman’s 35 hits, 20 have now gone for extra-bases. Middlebrooks almost tied the game in the ninth, as well, hitting a ball to the wall in center, just shy of what would have been a two-run blast.
- Saltalamacchia continued his solid stretch of late, with the catcher not only hitting the third-inning home run, but also singling. He came close to tying the game in the seventh, sending White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza to the warning track, just shy for what would have been another two-run blast. Saltalamacchia came into the game hitting .355 over his previous 10 games.