One bad inning costs Lester and Sox

BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester has owned the New York Yankees during his career, so when the left-hander took the mound in the first game of this three-game set Friday night at Fenway Park the focus was on him to deliver.

He worked five scoreless innings and struck out seven, but the Yankees were able to stay patient and figure him out in the sixth, scoring all three of their runs en route to a 3-2 victory over the Sox.

Overall, he allowed three runs on five hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.

“He pitched his ass off,” said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “He went out there and competed. It was really one bad inning, but other than that he looked great.”

Lester entered Friday’s start with a career 8-1 record against the Yankees, including a 2-0 mark this season. He was in total control early, but scuffled in the sixth.

He allowed a leadoff walk to New York’s No. 9 hitter Eduardo Nunez before allowing back-to-back singles to Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson that provided the Yankees with their first run of the game.

Lester then issued a walk to Mark Teixeira to load the bases. The Sox followed that with a 4-6-3 double play as New York’s second run came across. The Yankees’ Nick Swisher provided an RBI-double before Andruw Jones grounded out to end the inning.

“I lost command,” Lester said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to them because they did a really good job being patient that inning. I threw some pretty good pitches that they laid off, whether it was a ball or a strike they stayed within themselves. Seemed like the first five innings we dictated both sides of the plate and in that sixth inning they did.”

The four walks Lester issued, especially the two free passes in the sixth, are what eventually hurt him.

“You can’t give these guys, especially this team, free base runners,” he said.

The loss snaps a stretch of five straight winning starts for Lester against the Yankees.

“It’s a good lineup and we had a great pitcher on the mound as well, and it was just their day,” Saltalamacchia said.

Lester drops to 11-5 this season.

The Red Sox look to rebound on Saturday when they send John Lackey (9-8, 6.23 ERA) to the mound to face New York’s ace CC Sabathia (16-5, 2.55).