Boston (21-14) at Baltimore (18-20)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon May 15, 2006
  • TV: ESPN, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

It has been a long three days for the Boston Red Sox, who finally return to action Monday and open a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Park.

The Red Sox (21-14) have been idle since Friday night, when they lost 6-0 to the Texas Rangers in a rain-shortened 5 1/2 innings of baseball. The final two games of the three-game series were rained out.

“It is what it is, so it doesn’t matter,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think with every team, nobody wants to get backed up.”

It’s the third rainout this season for the Red Sox, who are concerned about what the schedule will do to their pitching staff. Lenny DiNardo, scheduled to pitch Saturday, will miss his turn in the rotation this week and be a long reliever while Josh Beckett (4-1, 4.70 ERA) had his start pushed back from Sunday to this game.

Beckett, who will celebrate his 26th birthday Monday, has the chance to join teammate Curt Schilling with a team-high five wins as he faces the Orioles for the first time.

The right-hander snapped a two-start funk Tuesday against the Yankees, giving up three runs and six hits while striking out seven in seven innings of a 14-3 win. Beckett had been tagged for 13 runs and 11 hits in 8 2-3 innings in his previous two starts.

“I definitely felt stronger today than I have in about a week and a half,” Beckett said. “I think I’m getting back to where I need to be.”

Beckett will be opposed by Rodrigo Lopez (1-5, 7.03), who is looking for his first win since opening day. He already has lost twice this season to the Red Sox and has allowed at least four earned runs in all eight of his starts.

The Orioles (18-20) have lost the last four games he has started, including Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers. Lopez pitched six innings, giving up eight hits—including back-to-back homers—and six runs. He walked one and struck out a season-high seven in a 6-3 defeat.

“Mentally right now, I have to be positive,” Lopez said. “I’ve got a pretty good game-plan and everything, but things haven’t worked out for me. I just have to be positive and keep pitching, keep fighting until things work out for me.”

The Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with an 8-7 win Sunday. Baltimore trailed 7-4 heading into the ninth, but Jeff Conine hit a sacrifice fly to score Miguel Tejada, and Kevin Millar’s RBI single—the third consecutive run-scoring base hit—plated Javy Lopez with the winning run.

Millar went 3-for-10 when he returned to Fenway during last week’s three-game series.

Baltimore has lost six straight to the Red Sox this season and 11 consecutive games going back to 2005. Boston outscored the Orioles 25-9 at Fenway and 45-19 in the six victories in 2006.

The Orioles had hoped to have Brian Roberts back in the lineup after the second baseman missed the last two weeks with a strained groin. Roberts, though, does not feel 100 percent and likely will not be activated until Friday.

“This is killing me,” Roberts said. “it’s not fun, that’s for sure. I’m trying to get through my head that it’s one or two more days to save me from more of this down the road, so that’s what I have to do.”

Roberts was batting .330 (31-of-94) when he was put on the DL. He was 2-for-10 against the Red Sox when the teams met in April.

Rookie second baseman Brandon Fahey has played well filling in for Roberts, batting .293 (12-for-41) and going 7-for-19 in his last four games.

“It’s nice to be able to bring up our kids and see them play a little bit and do well. Brandon has certainly done that,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “It doesn’t take away from missing Brian, but it helps.”

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Starting Pitchers

J. Beckett LAD vs. R. Lopez Phi
16-11 Record 9-18
5.01 ERA 5.90
158 K 136
74 BB 59
1.29 WHIP 1.55