Beginning to look like the dominant pitcher he was last season, Derek Lowe will try for a fifth straight win when the Boston Red Sox complete their four-game set with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
After finishing third in last year’s AL Cy Young voting following a 21-win season in which he compiled the league’s second-lowest ERA at 2.58, Lowe began this season 3-3 with a 6.53 ERA in his first eight starts.
However, the 6-foot-6 right-hander has recently looked more like the pitcher who made a smooth transition from closer to starter in 2002, going 4-0 with a 2.99 ERA over his last six starts.
He hasn’t lost since May 11 at Minnesota, and is coming in off an 8-4 home victory over Houston on Saturday. Lowe allowed four earned runs and nine hits over 7 1-3 innings while using an effective sinker to get 20 of his 22 outs via the ground ball.
“You’re just trying to get outs,” Lowe said. “I don’t really care how they come.”
The Red Sox have dropped two of three in this series, including Wednesday’s 3-1 setback.
Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 11 games and has hit safely in 43 of his last 45.
The White Sox have won seven of their last 11.
Magglio Ordonez had an RBI for Chicago, giving him four in his last six games. He also has two homers and three doubles in that span.
STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL East. White Sox - 3rd place, 6 GB, AL Central.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (7-3, 4.68 ERA). Lowe is 1-2 all-time against the White Sox with a 3.16 ERA and five saves in 19 appearances, including two starts.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Dan Wright (0-3, 6.00 ERA). A 14-game winner last season, Wright remained winless in seven starts this season after failing to factor in the White Sox’s 6-5 home victory over San Diego on Saturday. The 25-year-old right-hander gave up four earned runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. Wright is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three career appearances, including a pair of starts, against the Red Sox.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Garciaparra, .330 avg. and 60 runs; Manny Ramirez, 16 HRs and 56 RBIs; Johnny Damon, 12 SBs. White Sox - Frank Thomas, .276 avg. and 16 HRs; Carlos Lee and Ordonez, 41 RBIs; Lee and Thomas, 34 runs; Lee, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: White Sox, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - Boston is batting a major league-leading .295. … SS Garciaparra hasn’t homered since May 24, a span of 91 at-bats. … CF Damon is batting .395 (15-for-38) with a homer and five RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. White Sox - RHP Billy Koch picked up his ninth save in 11 opportunities on Wednesday. He was second in the AL last season with 44 while with Oakland. … DH Thomas has three homers and six RBIs in his last seven games. … 3B Joe Crede is 4-for-4 against RHP Lowe with four RBIs. Crede is the only player on the current roster with a homer off the right-hander.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 18-19 on the road; White Sox - 21-16 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - LHP Casey Fossum (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chad Fox (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Ramiro Mendoza (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL. White Sox - LHP Kelly Wunsch (side), 15-day DL; C Sandy Alomar Jr. (oblique), 15-day DL.