Cleveland (31-18) at Boston (35-15)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue May 29, 2007
  • TV: STO, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

An injury hindered what was shaping up to be an outstanding season for Josh Beckett. A matchup with the Cleveland Indians may be a challenge for him to get back in that groove.

The Boston Red Sox, looking to match their longest winning streak of the season, will send Beckett to the mound for the first time in over two weeks when they face the Indians on Tuesday night in the middle game of their series.

Beckett (7-0, 2.66 ERA) had the most wins in the majors before going on the disabled list since May 19 with a right middle finger injury. The injury forced Beckett out of a 6-5 win over Baltimore on May 13 after four innings.

Despite missing time, the right-hander has a chance to move back into a tie for the major league lead in wins and help the AL East-leading Red Sox match their five-game winning streak from April 18-22. John Lackey has a major league-best eight wins for the Los Angeles Angels.

Beckett, though, went 0-2 with a 13.97 ERA in his first two career starts against Cleveland (31-17), both from last season—his first with Boston. He isn’t expected to be on a low pitch count Tuesday.

“We did this so there wouldn’t be restrictions,” Boston manager Terry Francona told the team’s Web site. “He can go out and be the pitcher he is.”

Boston won 5-3 on Monday in the series opener as Curt Schilling pitched seven strong innings and Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis homered.

Youkilis hit a stand-up inside-the-park homer Monday, and has hit in 20 straight games to raise his average from .280 to .354. He has at least two hits in each of his last eight games, batting .472 (17-for-36) with two home runs and seven doubles in that stretch.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, meanwhile, has missed two straight games because of tightness in his hamstrings. Francona didn’t say whether Ortiz would be available Tuesday.

Indians right fielder Trot Nixon went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly Monday and got loud cheers in his return to Boston, where he played from 1996-2006.

“It’s great to be back here and see a lot of people I’ve been close to for so many years,” Nixon said. “I’m trying to keep things in the perspective where I have an obligation to the Indians, just like I had an obligation for eight or nine years with the Red Sox.”

Cleveland, which had a four-game winning streak end, will try to bounce back with Jeremy Sowers (1-4, 6.29) on the mound. Sowers finally earned his first win of the season in his last start, allowing one run and six hits in seven innings to beat Kansas City 10-3 on Thursday.

The left-hander posted a 13.15 ERA en route to losing his previous three starts.

Sowers has made one career start against the Red Sox, giving up two runs and five hits in five innings in a 6-5 loss on Aug. 2.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Sowers CLE vs. J. Beckett LAD
1-6 Record 20-7
6.42 ERA 3.27
24 K 194
21 BB 40
1.56 WHIP 1.14

Scoreboard

Tuesday, May 29