Arizona (39-37) at Boston (47-31)

Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 89° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Jun 23, 2008
  • TV: ESPN, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Facing Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park could be a daunting task for the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mired in an offensive slump, the Diamondbacks look to avoid a fourth straight loss when they open a three-game set against the Red Sox on Monday night in a matchup of two first-place clubs.

Despite having lost six of its last eight contests, Arizona (39-37) holds a 3 1/2-game lead in the weak NL West because it remains the only team in the division with a winning record. The Diamondbacks hope to bounce back after falling 5-3 at Minnesota on Sunday that completed a series sweep by the Twins.

Arizona has scored just eight runs in four games since beating Oakland 11-1 on Wednesday, the only time it has scored more than three runs in its last nine contests. The Diamondbacks are 11-21 since May 18 when they were 12 games over .500

“We’re definitely in a bad streak right now,” Sunday’s losing pitcher Brandon Webb said. “It’s got to turn around sometime and I would think it’s got to be soon because it’s been a rough six weeks or so for us.”

Things won’t get easier for the Diamondbacks -15-22 away from home - on Monday when they visit Beckett and the AL East-leading Red Sox (47-31). Boston improved to 29-9 at home after beating St. Louis 5-3 in 13 innings Sunday afternoon.

Beckett (7-4, 3.87 ERA), who’ll try for a third straight winning decision, is 4-0 in five starts at Fenway this season. His last victory, however, came Sunday at Cincinnati when he allowed six hits and struck out six in seven innings of a 9-0 victory over the Reds.

“I just want to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, go deep into games,” Beckett told the Red Sox’s official Web site.

The right-hander, who’s lasted at least six innings in his last six starts, is 1-3 with a 5.65 ERA against Arizona, but allowed two earned runs in eight innings for his lone win against the Diamondbacks on June 8, 2007.

Boston, which has won 15 of its last 22 contests, avoided being swept by the Cardinals after Kevin Youkilis belted a two-run homer Sunday in the 13th inning.

“I think it was even more exciting when you have a 13-inning game,” said Youkilis, who is batting .407 (11-for-27) with four homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games. “You just want to get out of here. That always makes it a lot better of a home run.”

The Red Sox are hitting .291 at home this season, but could be in for a test against Arizona’s Dan Haren (7-4, 3.26), who’ll try a third consecutive winning decision Monday.

Haren allowed a run and four hits in seven innings in the Wednesday victory over Oakland, the team with which he spent the past three seasons. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.26 ERA in five starts against Boston.

Conor Jackson had three hits and Mark Reynolds added two Sunday for the Diamondbacks, who are 5-7 in interleague play this season, but 4-2 all-time against the Red Sox.

Arizona swept a three-game set in its only previous visit to Fenway Park from June 7-9, 2002.

Despite the team’s offensive struggles, Jackson - who lost a ball amidst the color of the Metrodome roof while making a rare start in left field Sunday - is batting .400 (12-for-30) in his last eight contests.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Haren Mia vs. J. Beckett LAD
16-8 Record 12-10
3.33 ERA 4.03
206 K 172
40 BB 34
1.13 WHIP 1.19

Scoreboard

Monday, Jun 23