Boston (71-53) at Baltimore (61-63)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Aug 18, 2008
  • TV: NESN, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Considering how the Boston Red Sox have scored runs this year, it’s surprising they struggled in their last series. And it might be difficult to jump-start that offense against a pitcher who has been stingy against his opponents lately.

The Red Sox will try to get their bats going again on Monday, when they face Jeremy Guthrie and the Baltimore Orioles to open a three-game road set.

Boston (71-53) boasts one of the highest-scoring lineups in the majors with 637 runs. But the club, which plated 37 runs in a three-game sweep of Texas recently, scored just five times in losing both contests of a rain-shortened set against Toronto that concluded with Sunday’s 15-4 defeat.

“Just a bad day all the way around,” said losing pitcher Josh Beckett, who allowed eight of the Red Sox’s season-high 22 hits.

Boston, which also saw its AL wild-card lead slip to a half-game, aims to re-energize its offense as it begins a nine-game road swing against AL East rivals. However, it’s unclear if right fielder J.D. Drew will be in the lineup after leaving Sunday’s game after three innings with tightness in his lower back.

Among the hitters that struggled in Boston’s abbreviated series were David Ortiz and Jason Bay. Ortiz, who is batting .260 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs, went 1-for-6 with a strikeout, while Bay—hitting .328 with a homer and 12 RBIs in 15 games since being acquired by the Red Sox—was 2-for-6 with three strikeouts.

Both sluggers hope to turn things around against Guthrie (10-8, 3.13 ERA), who takes the ball in the opener.

Guthrie, who is 1-1 with a 3.58 ERA in seven career games versus the Red Sox, was reached for five runs and seven hits while walking a season-high five over 4 2-3 innings in a 9-2 loss at Boston on June 12.

But the right-hander has since gone 7-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 11 outings for the Orioles (60-63), and has posted an impressive 1.23 ERA in winning a career-high four consecutive starts. He was dominant again Wednesday, holding Cleveland to one run and four hits in seven innings of a 6-1 road victory.

“Each time out, he is making a statement, establishing himself as a legitimate top-of-the-order starter in either league,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

Guthrie has won three of his last four at Camden Yards, where the Orioles will open a nine-game homestand after completing a 4-3 road trip.

Baltimore’s offense surged Sunday as each starter hit safely in a 16-8 victory in Detroit.

Melvin Mora hit two homers and drove in a career-high six runs, and Luke Scott also went deep twice for the Orioles, who established season highs in runs, hits (22) and extra-base hits (12).

“I haven’t been a part of or seen a team swinging the bats as well as we are right now,” right fielder Nick Markakis told the Orioles’ official Web site.

Markakis, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI on Sunday, is batting .313 (5-for-16) versus Boston’s scheduled starter Jon Lester (11-4, 3.25).

The left-hander, who is 8-1 with a 2.87 ERA over his last 12 starts, limited hard-hitting Texas to three runs and seven hits while fanning six over 7 1-3 innings in an 8-4 home victory on Wednesday.

Lester is 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six career outing versus the Orioles, and held them to two runs and seven hits over seven innings against Guthrie in June.

Boston is 7-5 versus Baltimore in 2008, taking two of three at Fenway Park from July 11-13.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Lester Oak vs. J. Guthrie KC
16-6 Record 10-12
3.21 ERA 3.63
152 K 120
66 BB 58
1.27 WHIP 1.23

Scoreboard

Monday, Aug 18