<
>

Rapid reaction: Pirates 3, Red Sox 1

PITTSBURGH -- The Red Sox definitely missed David Ortiz in their first interleague road game of the season as Darnell McDonald proved to be quite lacking while hitting in the No. 5 hole Friday night in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park.

McDonald, who played left field, went 0-for-3 and left six runners on base against Pirates left-handed starter Paul Maholm as the Sox lost their third straight game since winning 14 of 16.

McDonald got a hit in his fourth at-bat, a bloop leadoff single to center in the eighth. Ironically, Ortiz pinch hit with two outs and runners on second and third and grounded out to end the inning.

The Red Sox began a stretch of nine games in National League parks, meaning no designated hitter and no Big Papi. Manager Terry Francona is contemplating giving Ortiz at least one start on the road trip at first base but that would necessitate Adrian Gonzalez moving to right field, where he has played only one game in his career.

McDonald and Mike Cameron, the Red Sox's other right-handed-hitting outfielders, continue to struggle against left-handed pitchers. McDonald is hitting .107 against them and Cameron is hitting .150.

Adrian Gonzalez's streak of hits in six consecutive at-bats ended at the worst time as he fouled out with the Sox trailing 3-1 with one out and runners on first and third in the seventh inning against rookie left-hander Tony Watson. Kevin Youkilis then struck out to end that threat.

Gonzalez did go 2-for-4 and was hit by a pitch to raise his batting average to .360, best in the major leagues. He is also hitting a smoking .556 (25-for-45) in interleague play this season.

Jon Lester (9-4) wasn't at his sharpest as he failed for the second time to become the major league's first 10-game winner. Lester had a quality start as he allowed three runs, two earned, in six innings but he was also touched for eight hits while walking one and striking out five.

Lester lost for just the second time in his last 17 road starts, dating to last season. He is also 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA in four June starts after going 4-1 with a 5.50 ERA in starts in May.