BOSTON – Jon Lester took little solace in a strong recovery after a rough start.
Allowing seven runs in the first two innings was too much for Boston to overcome and end a skid that hit seven straight with a 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
“I just wasn’t able to do it with anything. Pick a pitch, I wasn’t able to do it,” Lester said. “It just wasn’t good from the start.”
It’s been a common theme for the defending World Series champion Red Sox, who are on their longest losing streak since losing the final eight games of the 2012 season.
Mark Buehrle won his major league-leading eighth game, Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista homered on consecutive pitches for the Blue Jays as they completed a three-game sweep and won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Lester (4-6) had his worst outing of the season, allowing seven runs and seven hits through 1 1-3 innings. He settled down and retired 12 straight batters and left with one out in the seventh. Lester allowed 10 hits and striking out just three.
“He just missed some spots and they’re hot right now. Missed spots against these guys, they’re going whack it,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “I think the frustrating thing for him was he made some good pitches and they got hits.”
Buehrle (8-1) allowed two runs in the first two innings and left after giving up seven hits and no walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. He retired 11 of his last 12 batters.
Lester retired the first batter of the game, Jose Reyes, on a grounder. But Cabrera hit a 1-0 pitch for his eighth homer and Bautista followed with his 12th. Both were to left field.
Toronto kept rolling in the second when six of its first seven batters reached base on five hits and a walk.
Steve Tolleson and Kevin Pillar singled and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Anthony Gose. Reyes then doubled in both runners and stole second. Cabrera walked and Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion followed with RBI singles.
Bautista came across with the fifth run of the inning when Brett Lawrie grounded into a forceout at second, making it 7-1.
“We’re in a stretch of games here where we’re giving up too many runs early and we’re scuffling to score runs,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “That’s a dangerous combination.”
The inning ended when center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a diving catch on a fly ball by Dioner Navarro.
Boston scored in the first on a leadoff double by Dustin Pedroia and a single by Jonny Gomes, then added a run in the second on Xander Bogaerts’ third homer.
NOTES: Toronto manager John Gibbons lost a challenge in the sixth when the on-field ruling that Pillar was caught stealing was upheld. … Bautista has reached base in 48 of his 49 games. … Boston has been outscored 37-16 in its seven-game losing streak, its longest since dropping its last eight games in 2012. … The Red Sox open a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Friday night with John Lackey (5-3) facing Chris Archer (3-2) of the Rays. Toronto returns home to start a three-game set with Oakland, with R.A. Dickey (4-4) pitching against Scott Kazmir (5-1) of the Athletics.