Sox swept away by A's; Oakland gets to Lester early.


Byline: Greg Beacham

OAKLAND, Calif. - Jon Lester has been through enough emotional extremes for a lifetime over the last two years.

After surviving lymphoma and winning a World Series, after throwing a no-hitter and hearing his father's own diagnosis with cancer, the Boston left-hander seems to wish he could just get back to the mundane, everyday business of pitching - even when Lester isn't pitching as well as he would like against the surging Oakland Athletics.

Six days after he held Kansas City hitless, Lester's hopes for a second straight no-hitter ended with the first batter he faced yesterday. Jack Hannahan hit that leadoff single and later drove in two runs, and Jack Cust hit a two-run homer as the A's completed a three-game sweep of the defending World Series champions with a 6-3 victory.

Lester (3-3) allowed seven hits and four runs over five innings, scuffling through early trouble before retiring the last six batters he faced, but the Red Sox limited him to 94 pitches after allowing him to throw 130 in the 18th no-hitter in club history. He emerged from his latest start furious with himself, yet seemingly grateful to think about something besides his personal highs and lows.

"All the positives we talked about before the season, it seemed I did the complete opposite," Lester said. "All the things we've strived to better, and it seemed like I took a step back. It's tough pitching out of jams every inning. I couldn't get comfortable."

Lester, who won the World Series-clinching game for Boston last fall after his remarkable comeback from cancer treatment, also revealed this weekend that his father, John, recently was diagnosed with lymphoma. John Lester's cancer is highly treatable, the pitcher told ESPN before the Red Sox's first trip of the season to his native Seattle area.

"It hasn't," Lester said when asked if his father's condition had weighed on him. "I've always been out in the open. I just haven't told you (media). I don't want to get questions about that. I want to get asked questions about pitching, and focus on that. That's something between my dad and me and my family. When I'm here, I don't want to have to worry about that."

Hannahan, who reached base four times after entering the game in an 0-for-10 slump, drove in two runs in the fourth inning of Oakland's fourth consecutive win.

Cust added his eighth homer on the first pitch by reliever Javier Lopez in the seventh, while Mike Sweeney and Emil Brown also had...

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