Published March 21, 2012
BRADENTON, Fla. – Jon Lester was happy with his mechanics. He wasn't pleased with his results.
Boston's scheduled opening-day starter allowed four runs and eight hits in three innings Wednesday as the Red Sox lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5.
"I felt probably the best I felt mechanically and able to repeat in a long time," Lester said. "To waste it is bad. But I guess that's a positive from today, to really repeat some of the things that we've been working on."
Lester allowed four runs in the third inning, when Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker hit run-scoring singles and Matt Hague hit his third spring-training homer, a two-run drive.
"This is not something I take lightly, results in spring training," said Lester, whose ERA rose to 5.73. "I don't think there's anything we need to address. Like I said, I felt really sound and in good position when I threw the ball today. I was just a little bit under on my fastball. Instead of being at the knee, I was at the thigh. When you face big-league hitters, that's what happens."
Nate McLouth hit a two-run homer in the seventh off new Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey. Matt Hague, who led the International League in hits last year, went 2 for 3 with a home run and raised his average to .429.
Pirates starter Kevin Correia ran his scoreless streak to 10 1-3 innings before Josh Kroeger singled in a run in the second. Pittsburgh's opening day starter a year ago, Correia gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings and allowed a long home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth.
"I was pretty efficient today as far as pitch count was concerned," Correia said. "After I gave up a couple runs, I was able to get some quick outs. I very easily could have went a few more innings if it was a regular season start."
Saltalamacchia, who entered hitting .077 (1 for 13), added an RBI double. Adrian Gonzalez doubled in a run for the Red Sox.
"This spring, I really have been kind of getting underneath the ball and popping it up too much," Saltalamacchia said, "just found the bat head dragging a little bit. So we really worked on trying to get the head out and stay on top."
Pittsburgh's Evan Meek, limited to 24 appearances last year because of shoulder tendinitis, allowed a run in two innings.
NOTES: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said OF Carl Crawford (wrist) worked on baserunning Wednesday and will take part in soft toss Thursday. Valentine wasn't sure when Crawford would be able to take batting practice. ... Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett reported no issues after throwing a 52-pitch bullpen session and is tentatively scheduled to throw batting practice Saturday. Burnett underwent surgery this month to repair a broken bone around his right eye.