Boston (52-38) at New York (46-42)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Sun Jul 6, 2008
  • TV: ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Joba Chamberlain has made six starts so far for the New York Yankees, but none have been as high-profile as this one.

He’ll make his first career start against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night when the AL East rivals finish their four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Chamberlain (2-2, 2.22 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.17 ERA in six outings since being inserted into the rotation on June 3. The second-year converted reliever steadily increased his pitch count in his first five outings, throwing a career-high 114 pitches over 6 2-3 innings in his first win as a starter, a 10-0 victory in Pittsburgh on June 25.

The right-hander lasted four innings his next time out Tuesday as he gave up two runs, threw 91 pitches and did not get a decision in a 3-2 loss to Texas.

None of those outings, though, brought the spotlight that facing the defending World Series champion Red Sox (52-38) does. Chamberlain has thrown a total of 4 1-3 innings against Boston over three relief appearances, giving up one run and four hits.

The Yankees (46-42) are counting on Chamberlain to help them salvage a split of this series. New York lost the first two games to fall six games behind second-place Boston in the AL East race before using an outstanding start by Mike Mussina for a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Mussina pitched six scoreless innings and earned his 11th victory, but not before Mariano Rivera pitched in and out of trouble in the ninth inning. Mike Lowell drove in a run off Rivera and Boston loaded the bases with nobody out before the Yankees closer retired the next three hitters for his 23rd save.

“You can’t have doubts,” Rivera said. “You have to make pitches. If you have doubts, a lot of things can happen.”

Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games for Boston, which almost dealt the Yankees a heartbreaking loss.

“When you get bases loaded and nobody out, most of the time we’re still playing,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

New York is trying to figure out what to do with its outfield after Johnny Damon’s injury in Friday’s 6-4 loss. Damon suffered a sprained acromioclavicular joint crashing into the wall and may be headed to the disabled list for the first time in his 14-year career.

With Hideki Matsui already on the DL with a swollen left knee, the Yankees have just three healthy outfielders available - Bobby Abreu, Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner.

“We’ve been pretty banged-up and hopefully we can finish the first half strong and kind of evaluate where we’re going,” Damon said.

Boston starter Tim Wakefield (5-6, 3.72) tries to reverse his recent poor history against New York. The knuckleballer has posted a 10.02 ERA in losing his previous four starts versus the Yankees, and is 1-8 with a 6.82 ERA in his last 10 outings against them.

Over his last seven starts, though, Wakefield has been outstanding while providing Boston with plenty of innings. He’s lasted at least seven innings in each of those outings and has a 1.98 ERA in that span, but only a 2-3 mark thanks to poor run support.

The Red Sox wasted another strong effort from Wakefield on Tuesday as he allowed two runs over seven innings in a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay. It was his fourth straight road loss.

Wakefield has given the Yankees’ Jason Giambi fits in their careers. Giambi is a .183 hitter against him, including just three hits in his last 33 at-bats with nine strikeouts.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Wakefield Bos vs. J. Chamberlain Det
10-11 Record 4-3
4.13 ERA 2.60
117 K 118
60 BB 39
1.18 WHIP 1.26

Scoreboard

Sunday, Jul 6