TORONTO -- Mauled in Motown, mostly tamed in Toronto, the only good news for the Red Sox after Wednesday afternoon's 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays is that they now get to head home to Fenway Park.
It remains to be seen what type of reception the club will receive at Friday's home opener against the Rays after a 1-5 road trip, not to mention the lingering memories of last September's collapse.
"I think we have the greatest fans in the world. We'll find out," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
Either way, the Green Monster and Pesky's Pole will never look so inviting to a Boston team that didn't hit with any type of consistency on the opening road trip.
"I'm excited to go back to Fenway and play," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "It's been a long time. I'm sure excited about it."
But before they could clear customs and return home, the Red Sox had the misfortune of facing an ace who was in top form in Ricky Romero. The lefty simply stifled Boston, allowing three hits and one run over 8 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out five.
"He had everything going on today," David Ortiz said. "See, the thing is, when Romero gets in trouble, he's leaving pitches over the plate. That wasn't the case today. He was all over the plate, but on the plate. It's hard to hit when he throws the ball like he did today."
For the second time in as many starts this season, Jon Lester turned in a stellar performance and walked away with nothing to show for his effort. Just like when he matched up against Justin Verlander on Opening Day in Detroit, Lester was slightly outdueled.
"That's the nature of the beast against guys like that," Lester said. "I got outpitched again, plain and simple."
Lester earned a complete game, giving up three hits and three runs over his eight innings, walking two and striking out six. At one point, he retired 15 in a row.
"You can't ask for him to throw the ball any better than that," Pedroia said. "I feel horrible for him. I have to have better at-bats and try to get a couple of runs for him."
Romero simply wouldn't let that happen.
"They beat the ball into the ground a lot, it seemed like," Romero said. "When you're able to do things like that, you can't get away from it until they make the adjustment. These guys, they're so tough to pitch to sometimes that you have to keep them off balance and make good pitches."
The Jays got a big insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Rajai Davis sparked a two-out rally by walking and stealing second. Lester made a pickoff move to first, but Davis swiped the base anyway, as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's throw to second was not in time.
"He took off [on] first move, he never hesitated, went all the way," Gonzalez said. "He's really fast. I grabbed it and threw it. He's just that fast."
Yunel Escobar followed with an RBI single.
One thing the Red Sox did consistently on this frustrating road trip was battle until the end.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the ninth with a walk, then Pedroia worked a work himself. Just like that, Gonzalez came up as the potential go-ahead run. He hit a deep flyout to center, and both runners moved up, meaning a single could tie the game.
But Sergio Santos came on in relief of Romero and struck out Kevin Youkilis.
"The guy's got good stuff," Youkilis said. "I didn't get the job done."
The Red Sox were able to score first in a game for the first time this season in the top of the third. Cody Ross and Mike Aviles led off the inning with singles. Kelly Shoppach tried to move the runners over on a bunt, but Ross was thrown out at third. Ellsbury came through, though, slicing an RBI single down the line in left.
The lead didn't last long. The Jays rallied right back against Lester in their half of the third. Davis came up with the big hit, lacing an RBI triple to right.
Escobar made it 2-1 for the Jays with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Red Sox know that things can only get better from here.
"That's not the road trip we wanted, but we have a homestand coming up and we'll try to see if we can't get things going in the right direction," Valentine said.
The Red Sox do have practice at this type of homecoming. A year ago, they went 0-6 on the season-opening road trip.
"It's just as frustrating," Gonzalez said. "We'll get out of it. But it is frustrating for now."