Boston (61-39) at Cleveland (58-42)

Fair Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 25, 2007
  • TV: NESN, STO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

For the second consecutive night, runs could be at a premium at Jacobs Field.

Boston ace Josh Beckett tries to lead the Red Sox to their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday when he takes the hill against the Cleveland Indians, who will counter with Fausto Carmona.

Daisuke Matsuzaka and two relievers pitched the Red Sox (61-39) to a 1-0 victory Tuesday night, outdueling Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia and preventing him from becoming the first major leaguer to 14 wins.

Boston, which won the opener of this four-game series 6-2 on Monday, is now riding its third five-game winning streak of 2007. The Red Sox haven’t had a longer run since winning 12 in a row from June 16-29 last season.

Beckett (13-3, 3.41 ERA) now gets his chance at reaching the 14-win mark. The right-hander has been at his best on the road this year, winning all six of his starts with a 1.71 ERA in those outings.

This will be Beckett’s first road start since June 24. He has gone 2-2 with a 4.68 ERA in four starts at Fenway Park since then, including a 10-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday in which he gave up three runs over six innings while striking out a season-high 10.

“He’s just throwing 96, 97 miles per hour all game,” Chicago outfielder Jerry Owens said after that contest. “It’s hard to sit on anything else, plus he’s got that changeup and that curveball. When he’s on, he’s pretty much unhittable.”

The Indians (58-42) also had trouble hitting Beckett on May 29 at Boston, as he limited them to two runs and three hits in seven innings of Boston’s 4-2 win. Beckett fared much better than in his two outings - both losses - versus Cleveland last season, when he gave up 16 runs and six homers over 9 2-3 innings.

Boston’s offense could get a boost if David Ortiz can return to the lineup. Ortiz, who is batting .321 with a team-high 16 home runs and 60 RBIs, has missed the last four games with a strained left shoulder but took batting practice Tuesday and said he felt better.

“David’s doing real well,” manager Terry Francona said. “I will be surprised if he doesn’t play.”

Ortiz’s only career at-bat against Carmona (12-4, 3.52) was a game-winning three-run homer in the ninth inning last July 31 at Fenway. Carmona allowed two more runs to the Red Sox in the ninth two days later and took another loss, part of a disastrous stint as closer in which he blew three straight save opportunities in less than a week.

Boston will face a much more confident pitcher this time around. Carmona has won his last four starts, allowing three runs or fewer in each of them.

At Texas on Friday, the right-hander gave up three hits in eight scoreless innings of Cleveland’s 3-2 victory. He struck out seven batters, walked three and induced 14 groundball outs.

“It was my best stuff,” Carmona said. “I was getting ahead of hitters. All three pitches were working. I threw the changeup more for strikeouts, but I threw sinkers and sliders too.”

Indians first baseman Ryan Garko doubled Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He is batting .456 (26-for-57) during the run.

Cleveland has dropped three of its last four, but trails Detroit by only 1 1/2 games for the AL Central lead after the Tigers got swept in a doubleheader Tuesday at Chicago.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Beckett LAD vs. R. Hernández Phi
20-7 Record 19-8
3.27 ERA 3.06
194 K 137
40 BB 61
1.14 WHIP 1.21

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Jul 25