Maroth tries to remain unbeaten for the Tigers in 2007, and earn his first career win against Boston as the top two teams in the American League play the third of their four-game series Thursday night at Fenway Park.
After bone chips in his throwing elbow limited him to 13 appearances in 2006, Maroth (3-0, 4.69 ERA) has made a successful return. Helped in part by an offense scoring 7.81 runs per start, the left-hander is undefeated and the Tigers (24-14) have won all seven of his outings.
He earned his third win Friday, when he yielded one run while scattering nine hits over 6 2-3 innings of Detroit’s 7-3 victory at Minnesota.
“I think the best thing about Mike Maroth is he competes,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He stays within himself and competes.”
Maroth, though, has had a hard time competing with the Red Sox, who dealt the then-minor leaguer for reliever Bryce Florie on July 31, 1999. In seven lifetime starts against Boston, he is 0-6 with a 7.22 ERA and a .351 opponent batting average.
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek is 10-for-16 (.625) against Maroth with three homers, one double, one triple, four walks and a .700 on-base percentage.
Maroth will seek to duplicate the success of Justin Verlander, who held the Red Sox (26-12) to two runs over 7 2-3 innings of Tuesday night’s 7-2 victory and relished his role in preventing a three-game losing skid for Detroit.
“Absolutely,” Verlander said. “We lost our last two games, and I really just wanted to go out there and make a statement. Everybody on this team can play that role. I just happened to be the guy today.”
Magglio Ordonez hit a three-run homer and Brandon Inge added a solo shot for the Tigers, who bounced back from a 7-1 defeat in Monday night’s series opener and maintained their one-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Red Sox, although they still hold a commanding eight-game edge over the New York Yankees in the AL East and own baseball’s best record.
Of greater concern to Boston may be the condition of right fielder J.D. Drew, who bruised his back against the bullpen wall on Inge’s homer in the third inning and later had to leave the game.
“His lower back is a little sore,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Drew, who has been on the disabled list seven times in his 10-year career. “We will evaluate him again (Wednesday).”
Boston is only 2-4 when Julian Tavarez (1-4, 6.60) pitches, and will look for a better result with its fifth starter on the mound Wednesday. The right-hander has only one quality start and has not lasted longer than six innings in 2007, although the Red Sox have not scored more than four runs for him in any of his outings.
He got charged with the loss last Friday against Baltimore, allowing five runs - four earned - and 10 hits in five innings of Boston’s 6-3 defeat.
Tavarez is 2-0 with a 5.11 ERA in nine career appearances versus Detroit, eight of which have come in relief.
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