Philadelphia (35-37) at Boston (42-28)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 62° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jun 23, 2006
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The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t help the Boston Red Sox very much this week. Then again, the Red Sox haven’t really needed it.

Boston looks to extend its longest winning streak of the season on Friday in the opener of a three-game set with struggling Philadelphia.

“It’s hard to put everything together at once,” Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said Wednesday after hitting a grand slam in Boston’s 9-3 victory over Washington.

“When you put it together like we are right now, it gives you a chance to win a lot of games.”

With Philadelphia losing the last two games of its series this week against the New York Yankees, Boston has only a two-game lead over the second-place Yankees in the AL East.

The Red Sox improved their interleague record to 8-1 by sweeping three home games with the Nationals and a three-game set in Atlanta. With those six consecutive victories, Boston goes into this series seeking its longest win streak since its 2005-best eight-game run from July 26-Aug. 4.

Ortiz has hit safely in five straight games, going 7-for-19 (.368) with three homers and seven RBIs. Trot Nixon also had a big series against Washington despite sitting out the opener, going 6-for-10 with four doubles and three RBIs.

Manny Ramirez has driven in a run in four consecutive games, batting .375 (6-for-16) with two homers, and now looks to atone for his 1-for-11 performance in a three-game set at Philadelphia from May 19-21.

Third baseman Mike Lowell, though, helped Boston win two of those three games as he went 5-for-7 with two homers and four RBIs in the series.

Lowell was acquired from Florida in the offseason along with Josh Beckett (8-3, 5.09 ERA), who is looking to maintain his perfect record at Fenway Park when he takes the mound Friday. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in five home starts this season.

Beckett, though, has been inconsistent in his first season in the AL. He was 0-2 with a 13.54 ERA in his previous three starts before beating Atlanta on Saturday, allowing two runs and three hits over six innings in a 5-3 win.

Beckett has not pitched more than six innings in any of his five starts since he allowed four runs—three earned—in seven innings of an 8-4 win over Philadelphia on May 20.

“It’s a transition,” said Beckett, who is 7-3 with a 3.80 ERA against the Phillies. “Everybody who gets traded to the American League has to go through that. Nobody is feeling sorry for me because I got traded to the American League. I’m lucky to be on a team that doesn’t force you to throw a shutout every time. You don’t have to with our lineup.”

Ryan Madson (7-4, 5.79), who was coming out of Philadelphia’s bullpen during the last Boston series, will oppose Beckett. He is 3-1 with a 5.52 since he returned to the starting rotation in late May. The Phillies are 9-2 this season when Madson starts.

In his last outing, Madson picked up a victory as he allowed four runs—two earned—in 6 2-3 innings on Sunday in an 8-5 win over Tampa Bay.

All three of Madson’s previous appearances against Boston came in relief, going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

The Phillies fell to 3-6 in interleague play on Wednesday with a 5-0 loss to the Yankees, just the second time they’ve been shut out this season. The first, a 6-0 defeat to Washington on June 11, started Philadelphia’s current 2-8 stretch.

“We need to win some games,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We need to get to the All-Star break over .500.”

Facing Beckett might not help matters. Bobby Abreu has batted .161 (5-for-31) with 14 strikeouts against him, while Pat Burrell has hit .188 (6-for-32).

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Starting Pitchers

R. Madson KC vs. J. Beckett LAD
11-9 Record 16-11
5.69 ERA 5.01
99 K 158
50 BB 74
1.68 WHIP 1.29