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Lester eager to put difficult stretch in past

BOSTON -- Due to the fact Jon Lester has struggled in recent weeks and had his first start after the All-Star break pushed from Sunday to Tuesday, there was bound to be some speculation that he is pitching through an injury.

However, Lester, who threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Sunday, maintained that his problems aren't physical.

Anything nagging him, Lester was asked?

"Yeah, pitching," quipped the Red Sox left-hander. "I mean, honestly, I don't know how to answer these questions. Honestly, I know it looks weird just with the schedule and you get pushed back. But I've thrown a lot of pitches this year. Like I said, we're just trying to take advantage of the All-Star break and a couple of extra days we have thrown in there. We felt like it was a good time to do that."

Lester is eager to make his start against the Rays on Tuesday.

In his first nine starts of the season, Lester went 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. In his last 11, he is 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA.

"Obviously, yeah, I'm not pitching the way I feel like I should or want to be," said Lester. "At the same time, I think there are a lot of positives within some of those games that I try to take. I just have to keep trying to build off those. Some of those games really came down to two pitches. If I could minimize those two pitches into positives and limit some of those runs, we're talking about a different deal right now. I feel good with where I'm at the last couple starts. I feel like I've thrown the ball a lot better. I just try to build off that."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for
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