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Following a 6-0 start, Jon Lester is winless in his last three outings for the Boston Red Sox.
"Bad pitches, behind in the count, not having command of the baseball. The list goes on," he said after Friday night's 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees and CC Sabathia. "It just wasn't a good night for me."
Lester (6-2), who beat Sabathia at Yankees Stadium on opening day, needed 48 pitches to get through two innings and fell behind 2-0. He gave up four runs, six hits and four walks in 6 1-3 innings and hit a batter. He left with two on, and Brett Gardner greeted Andrew Miller with an RBI single.
"I don't know he had quite the sharpness to his secondary stuff, and he had to fight back in the count a few times," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But I thought he delivered the ball better downhill than he did in his last start. Still, the numbers didn't work out."
After going unbeaten with a 2.72 ERA in his first nine appearances, Lester is 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in his last three outings.
"He was battling all night trying to work in and out, and they took advantage of some balls he left over the middle," Red Sox catcher David Ross said.
Boston was missing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who felt tightness in his left groin when swiping the last of his team-record five bases Thursday at Philadelphia.
"It was still a little stiff throughout the course of the game tonight. Questionable tomorrow," Farrell said.
Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. replaced Ellsbury in center field and Daniel Nava took over as the leadoff hitter, striking out three times and grounding into a double play.
Throwing at up to 94 mph after two months of decreased velocity, Sabathia matched his season high with 10 strikeouts, walked none and allowed six hits in 7 1-3 innings. Sabathia (5-4) ended a five-start winless streak, one shy of his career high. He gave up his only run on Mike Napoli's seventh-inning RBI double.
"He threw the ball really well," said Dustin Pedroia, who doubled twice off Sabathia and finished with three hits. "He pounds the zone. Good slider. Good changeup. And there are times he can overpower you a little bit."
David Robertson and Mariano Rivera finished, with Rivera pitching around singles by Pedroia and David Ortiz for his 19th save in 20 chances.
Pedroia had been 0 for 10 against Rivera in his career.
"A 99-hopper up the middle," Pedroia said, "but I'll take it."
Out since injuring his right wrist March 5, Mark Teixeira made his season debut for the Yankees was 0 for 3 with a walk that sparked a two-run second that included run-scoring singles by Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki.
Youkilis, the former Boston star had been sidelined by a back injury since April 27, was 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the fifth.
"You don't want those guys coming up with guys on base," Pedroia said. "They know how to swing the bat."
New York stopped a season-high, five-game losing streak and closed within one game of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.
Boston was 2 for 12 with runners on. Players from both teams argued with plate umpire Lance Barksdale, who had three called strikeouts against Boston batters and seven against New York.
"I'll be honest with you. I thought it was a very uneven strike zone tonight," Farrell said. "So I could understand if there was some frustration."
This program aired on June 1, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.
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