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.”