Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

For much of this season, Jon Lester has hardly performed like he did a few years ago for the Boston Red Sox.

When he has, though, it's often been against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Two of Lester's three scoreless outings have come against the Blue Jays, and he'll take a crack at another Wednesday night while looking for his fourth win of 2013 versus Toronto.

Lester (10-7, 4.37 ERA) has had two outings in which the Blue Jays have scored four-plus runs off him, but he's also had a pair where he's shut them down completely. The left-hander went seven strong in a 13-0 win at Rogers Centre on April 7 and only surrendered one hit while going the distance in a 5-0 win May 10.

The Red Sox (72-49) - winners of nine of their last 13 at in Toronto - have given Lester 32 runs of support against the Blue Jays (54-65), but have only provided him 15 runs since the beginning of July as he's gone 2-3 with a 3.77 ERA in seven starts.

They didn't score any for him Thursday at Kansas City as Lester allowed three runs - one earned - in seven innings of a 5-1 loss.

He'll face a Blue Jays lineup struggling in the absence of Colby Rasmus, who could be headed for the disabled list with an injured oblique muscle. Toronto has scored just three runs in two games and is batting .191 since Rasmus - who was hitting .331 since the beginning of July - got hurt.

"We've had some good pitching these last few days but our offense has just dried up," manager John Gibbons said after Tuesday's 4-2 loss in 11 innings.

That's in spite of the fine work of Brett Lawrie, who has hit safely in 14 of Toronto's last 15 games. Lawrie is batting .418 during that stretch to lift his average from .204 to .254.

The Blue Jays, who have already allowed a major-league worst 72 runs in August, may have lost Josh Johnson for the season as well.

With Johnson currently on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right forearm, Toronto will reinsert Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.12) into the starting rotation three days after he was sent to the bullpen. That demotion followed a seven-start stretch in which he went 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA.

Friday marked his shortest start of the season, as he allowed seven runs - including three homers - in three innings of a 14-6 loss to Oakland.

"I can't even use my breaking pitch because I can't even throw it for a strike," Rogers said. "When I'm only using my fastball, everybody can hit the fastball at this level."

Rogers, however, posted his best start of the season against Boston, tossing six scoreless innings in Toronto's 6-2 win at Fenway Park on June 29.

The Blue Jays' biggest problems of late have been in the bullpen. Toronto's relievers have an 8.84 ERA over the last five games, allowing all four runs from the seventh inning on Tuesday.

It was the Red Sox's 28th comeback win of the year and their seventh rally in their past nine victories.

"Much like we've seen of late here, if we get down early we continue to grind, continue to be relentless at the plate, provide or build opportunities," manager John Farrell said.

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