Boston (50-29) at Tampa Bay (35-47)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 7:15 pm EDT Mon Jul 3, 2006
  • TV: NESN, WPXM
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Boston Red Sox seek their 15th win in 16 contests when they open a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Monday at Tropicana Field.

Boston (50-29) had its 12-game winning streak snapped with a 5-2 loss at Florida on Friday, but rebounded to win the final two games of that set to improve to 14-1 since a season-high four-game losing skid from June 11-15.

Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek and David Ortiz homered, and Jonathan Papelbon notched his 25th save in the Red Sox’s 4-3 win over the Marlins in Sunday’s series finale. Boston finished 16-2 against the National League, tying Oakland (2002) and Minnesota (2006) for the most interleague wins in a season.

“Hopefully, it just means that we’re playing good baseball and we can beat whoever we play,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Right-hander Josh Beckett has done his part during the recent run and will try to collect his 11th victory when he starts the opener for Boston.

Beckett (10-3, 4.64 ERA) notched his third straight win and helped spoil Pedro Martinez’s return to Boston with a 10-2 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday.

He allowed two runs and struck out seven in 7 2-3 innings, and has 20 strikeouts and just five walks in 21 2-3 innings to go along with a .147 opponents batting average over his last three starts.

“I was just trying to go out there and do my job and help this team win,” Beckett said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to get some offense on this little run we’ve put together. It seems like every night it’s seven, eight, nine, 10 runs and 12 hits.”

Beckett faced the Devil Rays for the first time on May 25 and struck out seven over six scoreless innings in a 4-1 victory.

Tampa Bay (35-47) is kicking off a tough seven-game homestand that also includes three contests against the New York Yankees. The Devil Rays are just 4-11 against Boston and New York this season.

Scott Kazmir (9-5, 3.59) has two of those wins—both against the Red Sox— and will be facing Boston for the fourth time this season Monday.

Kazmir has had success against the Red Sox in his career, going 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts, including a 2-1 mark and 3.50 ERA this season.

He beat Boston twice in 11 days in April and suffered an 8-4 loss the last time he faced them on May 26, when he allowed five earned runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez is just 3-for-25 (.120) with one homer and eight strikeouts against Kazmir, while Ortiz is 5-for-23 (.217) with one homer and seven strikeouts.

Kazmir gave up six runs and six hits in an 8-4 loss at Florida on Tuesday. The 22-year-old left-hander dropped to 5-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 11 road starts compared to a 4-1 mark and 2.36 ERA in six appearances at home.

The Red Sox have won the last four meetings in this series and are 95-47 against the Devil Rays.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Beckett LAD vs. S. Kazmir Oak
16-11 Record 10-8
5.01 ERA 3.24
158 K 163
74 BB 52
1.29 WHIP 1.27