New York (68-42) entered this series 0-8 against Boston (62-47), but has used outstanding pitching to stretch its win streak to six games and build a comfortable lead atop the division. The Red Sox have failed to score in 24 innings after being shut out for the second straight game, 5-0 on Saturday.
“We have a chance to extend the distance tomorrow,” manager Joe Girardi said, “and any time you have a chance to do that, they’re really important games.”
Boston has managed four singles each of the last two games. The slumping lineup is 3 for 33 with runners in scoring position for the series, and its last extra-base hit was Casey Kotchman’s(notes) two-run homer in the fourth inning of Thursday’s 13-6 loss.
“The last two nights, we’ve done nothing,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve faced two really good pitchers and we’ve done nothing.”
The Red Sox, who remained one game ahead of Texas for the wild card, have been shut out in consecutive road games against New York for the first time since 1963.
The last time the Yankees swept a four-game home set from their archrivals was Aug. 16-19, 1985. They will do it again if they finally break through against Lester.
Lester (9-7, 3.79 ERA) is 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees with 45 strikeouts over 39 1-3 innings. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA with 17 strikeouts in two starts against them this year.
Lester is 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his last eight starts. He gave up one run over six innings Tuesday in a 4-2, 13-inning loss at Tampa Bay.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz(notes), who apologized Saturday for his name reportedly being on a list of alleged drug users circulated by the federal government, is batting just .171 (6 for 35) with two homers and six RBIs since the July 30 report that he was on the list.
Pettitte (9-6, 4.35) will try to win two straight starts after he ended a season-high five-game stretch without a victory Tuesday. Pettitte had been 0-3 with a 5.34 ERA in his winless stretch before he allowed one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-3 win over Toronto and Roy Halladay(notes).
The left-hander improved to 8-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 night starts.
Since rejoining the Yankees in 2007, Pettitte is 3-4 with a 5.76 ERA in 10 starts and 11 overall appearances against the Red Sox. His lone outing this year was at Boston on April 26, and he gave up four runs over six innings in a 4-1 loss.