Notes: Same pitcher, different results

Notes: Same pitcher, different results

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Left-hander Jon Lester, who started Wednesday's game against the Reds, was pleased with his performance, going three innings and allowing one run on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. He threw 56 pitches, 33 for strikes.

The outing was an improvement over his first stint on Saturday against the Twins. Unable to record an out in the second inning, Lester was charged with five runs, four earned, on two hits and four walks.

"Really, there was nothing wrong mechanically," Lester said. "[There was] nothing that we worked on, just the consistency of it. I got another week under my belt, another bullpen [session] and just felt more comfortable.

"You see somebody other than your own team for the first time, you're amped up. That could have resulted in me being erratic. It could have been something minor. It was just nice to get back up on the mound and see another team and go get them again."

Take two: Coco Crisp was held out for the second day with a sore groin. Julio Lugo, who sat out on Tuesday against the Pirates with a sore back, was originally penciled into the lineup, but he was scratched before the game started. Alex Cora took Lugo's place at shortstop.

Sim game: With the Red Sox leaving on March 19 for Japan, innings for pitchers are at a premium. With the abbreviated exhibition schedule, the Sox will play a four-inning simulated game on the main field of City of Palms Park on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, before the scheduled Grapefruit League game against the Marlins at 1:05 p.m. Michael Bowden and David Pauley are scheduled to pitch three innings each, with Kyle Jackson and Edgar Martinez throwing a frame each.

"We'll have eight guys from [the big league] camp, and then we'll have eight guys from the [Minor League] camp come up," Francona said.

Cup on the line: citing the importance of the Mayor's Cup, Francona said that he plans to stay in Fort Myers on Friday, when a split squad travels to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to face the Orioles. The home squad hosts the Twins at City of Palms Park in the fourth game of the five-game series. The Sox hold a 2-1 series lead.

"I can't," he said. "I can't do it. I can't justify going there with the Mayor's Cup [on the line]. I was going to go, but I just can't do it."

Francisco Liriano is expected to make his first start of the Grapefruit League for the Twins, with Clay Buchholz starting for the Sox.

Up next: Tim Wakefield is expected to get the start on Thursday, as the Sox host the Dodgers at 1:05 p.m. ET at City of Palms Park. Former Boston right-hander Derek Lowe is scheduled to start for Los Angeles. Mike Timlin, David Aardsma and Bryan Corey are scheduled to follow Wakefield to the mound.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.