BOSTON – With the Lisbon Fire Department honor guard standing at attention in the outfield, Susie, Ali and Jill Stauble of Gray stepped to the microphones under the bright skies over Fenway Park.

With grace and style, despite the 90-degree heat, the sisters wowed the Fenway crowd with a smooth, harmonious rendition of the national anthem, finishing to cheers and applause.

Maine Day at Fenway Park was off to a splendid start.

What could go wrong?

The answer: C.J. Wilson.

Wilson is a left-handed pitcher who the Texas Rangers decided to make into a starter this year.

Good idea.

Wilson stymied the still short-handed Sox, allowing three hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings as Texas topped Boston 4-2 before a crowd of 37,431 at Fenway, many of them having traveled south from Maine, through the tolls and road construction.

The Red Sox hold a day for each of the six New England states every season.

Maine enjoys a special relations with the Red Sox, with not only a rooting interest in the major league team, but also as the home to Boston’s Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs.

So Mainers watched with optimism and a little pride when Jon Lester took the mound for Boston. Lester, 26, remains one of the top pitchers in Sea Dogs history (Eastern League Pitcher of the Year in 2005). He has moved on to become an American League All-Star.

Lester pitched well enough to win, allowing four runs (three earned) over eight innings.

“He located his fastball well, used his change-up and curve,” catcher Dusty Brown said.

While Lester got the loss, he continues to shine. And he is a reminder why Boston should hold on to its young talent.

Remember, if the Red Sox had their way before the 2004 season, Jon Lester would be pitching for the Rangers. Lester would have been a throw-in player in the proposed trade of Manny Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez. The deal fell apart because Boston could not re-structure Rodriguez’s contract.

Lester is part of the Hadlock-to-Fenway pipeline, one of 10 players on Boston’s active roster, not to mention five on the disabled list — Beckett, Buchholz, Pedroia, Ellsbury and Lowrie.

Brown was called up Saturday and started Sunday’s game. It was an eventful weekend for the Brown family. Jude Brown, son of Dusty and Jordan, turned 1-year-old on Saturday.

The latest former Sea Dog to join the Red Sox is pitcher Michael Bowden. A starter for most of his career, including stints at Hadlock Field in 2007 and ’08, Bowden joined the Red Sox bullpen. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on Sunday, with two strikeouts.

“Good, live arm with a sneaky delivery,” said Texas catcher Matt Treanor, one of those who struck out.

You may recognize Treanor’s name. He was the Sea Dogs’ catcher in 2002, when Portland was a Florida Marlins affiliate.

Maine connections were everywhere.

The day began with a Maine flair. Amanda Myles of Mexico was announced as the Blood Donor of the Game. Olympians Seth Wescott and Julia Clukey were recognized — standing on either side of Wally the Green Monster (not quite the Olympic podium, but still fun).

After the national anthem, Margaret Scamman of Kennebunk, an official member of the Red Sox Nation fan club, walked to the mound, escorted by Gov. John Baldacci, and threw out the first pitch.

For the seventh-inning stretch, Joe Bennett, a teacher at Fairmount School in Bangor, sang “God Bless America.” He nailed it. More cheers followed.

But the fans had little to applaud after that, save for Mike Cameron’s home run in the ninth.

Maine Day provided plenty of memories on Sunday — just not a win.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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