Lester hopes to get on track in Seattle

Lester looks to get on track

ANAHEIM -- It is always a bit of an event when Jon Lester, the pride of Puyallup, Wash., comes back home and pitches against the Seattle Mariners.

Forgive Lester, however, if he isn't caught up in the emotion of the event, which could include facing one of his boyhood idols, Ken Griffey Jr., who is back with the Mariners this season.

The Red Sox left-hander is far more consumed these days with trying to turn his season around. For whatever reason, Lester hasn't been able to get in any kind of rhythm. This, coming off a year in which he was one of the top starters in the American League, going 16-6 with a 3.21 ERA.

Lester, who will kick off this three-game series at Safeco Field when he takes the ball Friday night, has given up five runs or more in five of his seven outings. He had a hard time explaining his misfortune against Tampa Bay in his last start, when he was tagged for 10 hits and eight runs over 4 1/3 innings.

What does Lester have to do to get back on track?

"Just keep executing pitches," Lester said. "I threw a lot of good pitches that game that got hit through the hole and there's not a lot I can do about it. Like I said after the game, it's frustrating and I'm getting tired of saying I'm tipping my hat to good hitting. That's the way baseball is. It doesn't seem to be going my way right now and I just have to put that aside and try to execute as many pitches as I can and hopefully it will eventually turn around."

In the meantime, Lester continues to work behind the scenes with pitching coach John Farrell, though no more than usual.

"Just keep working on the changeup, keep working on the consistency of pounding the strike zone, command of my secondary pitches and my fastball," said Lester. "It's something where I'm never going to stop working on anything. I'm going to keep working on anything that needs to be improved and keep working on my weaknesses. Hopefully I can keep building and get better and like I said, keep trying to go out and execute as many pitches as I can."

In three career starts at Safeco, Lester is 1-0 with a 4.67 ERA.

As always, containing Ichiro Suzuki will be a key part of stopping the Seattle attack.

"He's like an [Jacoby] Ellsbury or Carl Crawford," Lester said. "You just try to limit the amount of bags he gets. He's a guy that's gonna get his steals, gonna get his stolen bases throughout the year. As far as pitching throughout the game, you just have to let him not sit in one spot and keep mixing the ball around the zone. Obviously you can't give in to him because he's going to be swinging. You have to keep him off balanced and try to get some bad contact and hopefully it's hit hard enough at people to where you can throw him out."

Pitching matchup
BOS: LHP Jon Lester (2-3, 6.31 ERA)
Lester followed up one of his best outings of the young season, a 10-strikeout performance at Yankee Stadium, with arguably his worst last Saturday at Fenway Park. The Rays blasted the Boston left-hander to the tune of eight runs on 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings, marking the second time in as many starts that Lester has been roughed up by the defending American League champions. Lester is 1-0 with a 4.67 ERA in three career appearances against the Mariners.

SEA: RHP Chris Jakubauskas (1-4, 7.67 ERA)
It's back the drawing board for the rookie right-hander, who staggered through his roughest outing on the road in his start against the Twins. He might have felt additional pressure with the team on a season-high four-game losing streak, but for whatever reason, the Twins worked him over and saddled him with his fourth straight loss. After surrendering just one home run in his first six outings this season, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau went back-to-back against him in the fifth inning.

The Red Sox are hoping to get David Ortiz back on track. In Thursday's loss, the star slugger went 0-for-7 and tied a franchise record by leaving 12 men on base. He has yet to homer this season. ... Dustin Pedroia will try to stay hot after going 4-for-6 in his return to the lineup on Thursday. The second baseman had missed two games with a right groin strain. ... Third baseman Mike Lowell has hit safely in 23 of the past 27 games.

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Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 3-2, 6.42) at Mariners (Erik Bedard, 2-1, 2.53), 10:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Justin Masterson, 2-2, 4.89) at Mariners (Jason Vargas, 1-0, 1.04), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.