Lester looks to earn his third win against the Orioles this season and saddle them with their fifth straight loss when he takes the mound for the Red Sox on Tuesday night in the middle game of this series.
Boston (80-57) beat Baltimore 7-4 on Monday night, pulling the Red Sox within five games of idle Tampa Bay in the AL East. The Red Sox, who also increased their lead to three games in the wild card race, hope Lester (12-5, 3.41 ERA) can lead them to their fifth straight series win.
The left-hander is 7-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 13 starts at home. His last start was on the road as he gave up one run and five hits while striking out eight in 6 2-3 innings as Boston lost 3-2 to the New York Yankees on Thursday.
Lester has been particularly effective versus the Orioles (63-74), going 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts versus them this season and 5-0 with a 2.93 ERA in seven career starts. He has won all three of his starts at home against Baltimore, but his ERA is 4.00 in those games.
With Baltimore struggling and Boston’s bats clicking, Lester has a good opportunity to continue his success against the Orioles. Baltimore has lost nine of its last 10 games, and four straight on the road.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have won 18 of 27, batting .299 while averaging 6.5 runs during that stretch. Boston went 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position in this series’ first contest.
Boston’s Dustin Pedroia had a two-run single in the sixth inning for his 184th hit on the season, setting a record for Red Sox second basemen previously set by Del Pratt in 1922. He’s hitting .378 with six home runs, 22 RBIs and 34 runs scored in 27 games since the end of July.
“I can’t say enough about my second baseman,” Boston starter Paul Byrd said. “This guy, in my opinion, is the MVP of the league. He’s unbelievable. I didn’t know he was that good when I came over here.”
The Red Sox also have Kevin Youkilis back in the lineup after he missed two games with flu-like symptoms. Boston’s cleanup hitter went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .217 (5-for-23) in seven home games against Baltimore this season.
Youkilis is 1-for-3 with a grand slam against Radhames Liz (5-3, 6.95 ERA), who will take the mound for the Orioles. He is 0-1 with a 16.88 ERA in two career starts against Boston.
The right-hander is 2-1 with an 8.69 ERA in five road starts. He faced the Red Sox in his last outing away from Baltimore and lasted 2 1-3 innings, allowing eight runs and six hits in a 12-1 loss on July 12.
Liz, though, earned a win in his last start, allowing two runs, three hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings as Baltimore beat the Chicago White Sox 11-3 on Wednesday night.
He’ll be trying to help an Orioles pitching staff that has given up 37 runs in its last four games.
Baltimore’s lineup, meanwhile, got a boost with center fielder Adam Jones being activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday. Jones, sidelined with a broken left foot since Aug. 3, went 1-for-4 with a solo home run.