Boston (51-37) at Toronto (48-42)

Clear Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 23° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 9, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Derek Lowe shoots for his eighth straight win as the Boston Red Sox continue their three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Skydome.

Lowe has gone 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA over his last nine starts to improve to 10-4 on the season. The 30-year-old right-hander is 31-11 over his last 50 outings dating back to last season—his first as a full-time starter.

Lowe is 1-1 with a 4.36 ERA in two starts against Toronto this year after going 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA against the Blue Jays in 2002.

Jason Varitek hit a go-ahead single in the 12th inning Tuesday, leading the Red Sox over the Blue Jays 2-1.

The win combined with a New York loss to Cleveland pulled Boston within three games of the first-place Yankees in the AL East. Toronto has lost eight of 10 to fall seven games behind New York.

In a surprising move, Boston manager Grady Little removed the struggling Johnny Damon from his leadoff spot Tuesday.

“Johnny is in a bad funk right now. We need a little bit more activity out of our leadoff hitter than what’s been happening lately,” Little said. “I don’t know long it will be for.”

Damon entered the game in a 4-for-37 slump that dropped his average to .249. Batting eighth, he went 3-for-4 with a walk.

Little said he would use Trot Nixon and Bill Mueller in the leadoff spot instead of Damon.

Carlos Delgado went 3-for-5 and knocked in his major league-leading 93rd run for Toronto.

Delgado needs seven RBIs over his next six games to join Hank Greenberg (1935) and Juan Gonzalez (1998) as the only players to have 100 before the All-Star break. Delgado has 12 home runs and 38 RBIs over the last 33 games.

STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 3 GB, AL East. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 7 GB, AL East.

RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (10-3, 4.50 ERA). Lowe allowed three runs and scattered 10 hits over 6 1-3 innings Friday to beat the Yankees 10-3. Lowe has had a tough time getting left-handed batters out this year. They are hitting .308 with six homers against him.

BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Kelvim Escobar (5-5, 4.31 ERA). Escobar has struggled over his last three starts, going 0-2 with a 5.85 ERA. The right-hander did not receive a decision in Toronto’s 8-5 loss to Baltimore on Friday, allowing four runs and nine hits over 7 2-3 innings.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Nomar Garciaparra, .324 avg. and 73 runs; Manny Ramirez, 20 HRs and 67 RBIs; Damon, 17 SBs. Blue Jays - Delgado .309 avg., 28 HRs, 93 RBIs and 72 runs; Orlando Hudson, 5 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Blue Jays, 6-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - RHP Byung-Hyun Kim has converted both of his save opportunities since taking the closer’s role. Seven different Boston pitchers have recorded saves this year, led by RHP Brandon Lyon’s nine. … SS Garciaparra is batting .077 (2-for-26) with no extra base hits or RBIs over his last six games. … 3B Bill Mueller is tied for the AL lead in doubles with 30. Blue Jays - Manager Carlos Tosca doesn’t want RHP Roy Halladay to pitch in the All-Star game. Halladay will be working on three days’ rest Saturday against the New York Yankees. He is 12-0 in his last 16 starts. … OF Vernon Wells is mired in a 5-for-30 slump. He’s batting .167 with one home run and four RBIs over his last seven games. … 1B Delgado leads the majors with 28 home runs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 23-25 on the road; Blue Jays - 22-20 at home.

INJURIES: Red Sox - INF Jeremy Giambi (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Casey Fossum (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL. Blue Jays - INF Dave Berg (fatigue), 15-day DL; RHP Cliff Politte (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder surgery), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Lowe Tex vs. K. Escobar NYM
17-7 Record 13-9
4.47 ERA 4.29
110 K 159
72 BB 78
1.42 WHIP 1.48