Los Angeles (71-51) at Boston (74-49)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Sun Aug 19, 2007
  • TV: KCOP, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

David Ortiz appears to be heating up for the Boston Red Sox after a dry spell. As far as the Los Angeles Angels are concerned, he was never struggling.

Ortiz and the Red Sox look to improve the majors’ best record when they complete a four-game series with the Angels on Sunday afternoon in a matchup of division leaders.

The Red Sox spotted the Angels a five-run lead Saturday before scoring six times in the fifth inning off starter Jered Weaver - capped by Ortiz’s seventh career grand slam - en route to a 10-5 victory.

“Well, it certainly happened quickly,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s not a forgiving lineup.”

Julio Lugo and Manny Ramirez each drove in two runs for Boston (74-49), which remained five games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East.

The Red Sox won the series opener 8-4 on Friday, and were in line for a doubleheader sweep until Eric Gagne failed to protect a one-run lead in the ninth in the nightcap, resulting in a 7-5 loss.

Boston is 13-5 at Fenway Park against the Angels since the start of the 2004 season.

Ortiz is 5-for-12 with two homers and eight RBIs in the first three games of this series. He batted .189 (7-for-37) with no home runs and four RBIs in his previous 10 contests.

Ortiz also has been dealing with pain in his left shoulder since injuring it sliding into second July 20.

“Sometimes you swing, you miss a pitch and I don’t feel like I want to swing again, but it’s feeling a little better. I’m just going to try to hang in there,” said Ortiz, who’s also playing with an injured right knee that, along with his shoulder, was heavily wrapped as he sat by his locker after the game.

The Boston designated hitter is batting .344 (11-for-32) with four homers and 16 RBIs in eight games this season against the Angels.

Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero homered for Los Angeles (71-51), which had its lead in the AL West over Seattle cut to two games after the Mariners beat the Chicago White Sox 7-5 later on Saturday.

Boston’s Jason Varitek is expected to get a day off after catching 17 innings Friday and playing Saturday. Kevin Cash is scheduled to start in his place, his first major league appearance since July 19, 2005, when he played for Tampa Bay at Fenway Park.

Julian Tavarez (6-8, 5.12) will come out of the bullpen to make his first start for Boston since Aug. 1. The right-hander, who began this season in the rotation, has made four straight relief appearances since he gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings in his most recent start against Baltimore

By starting Tavarez, the Red Sox can push Tim Wakefield’s start to Monday at Tampa Bay, where the knuckleballer is 8-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 18 career games.

Tavarez, though, is 0-4 with a 7.31 ERA in his last six starts. He also is 1-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 18 career appearances against the Angels - all in relief.

Guerrero is 9-for-26 (.346) with one homer and four doubles against Tavarez.

Angels left-hander Joe Saunders (6-1, 3.50) looks to rebound from his first loss in nearly a year. Saunders allowed four runs - all in the first - and eight hits over seven innings Tuesday in a 4-1 loss at Toronto. He wasn’t helped by two first-inning errors that led to his first defeat since Sept. 13, 2006.

Saunders, who has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts, will be facing the Red Sox for the second time in three outings. He gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings on Aug. 7 in a 10-4 victory.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Saunders Bal vs. J. Tavarez Was
8-5 Record 7-11
4.44 ERA 5.15
69 K 77
34 BB 51
1.52 WHIP 1.50

Scoreboard

Sunday, Aug 19