The Boston Red Sox haven’t climbed into playoff contention thanks to any particularly long winning streak. They’re simply consistently winning more than they lose.
The Red Sox look to clinch their 10th consecutive non-losing series overall and eighth in interleague play when they continue their three-game home set with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.
David Ortiz(notes) hit his 13th homer of the season and first since June 2, while Dustin Pedroia(notes) had two hits and three runs as Boston (38-28) took the series opener 6-3 on Tuesday, continuing its return to contention after its record stood at 19-20 on May 17.
The Red Sox haven’t won more than five consecutive games all season, but they’ve taken six series and tied the other three during their resurgence. That’s allowed them to creep from 8 1/2 games out May 17 to within four games of AL East co-leaders New York and Tampa Bay. Their 19-8 record in that span is the AL’s best.
Boston is 17-8 when Ortiz drives in at least one run.
In a rotation that includes high-salaried veterans Josh Beckett(notes), John Lackey(notes) and Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes), relative youngsters Buchholz and Jon Lester(notes) (7-2, 3.18 ERA) have emerged as the most consistent starters. After Buchholz earned his sixth win in seven starts in the series opener, Lester will look to bounce back from a subpar outing and win his eighth straight decision Wednesday.
The left-hander had gone 7-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his previous eight starts, but gave up six runs in six innings Thursday, not getting a decision in an 8-7 loss at Cleveland. The six earned runs equaled the total from his previous five outings combined.
Lester has never faced the Diamondbacks (26-39), but is 6-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 11 starts versus NL opponents.
Arizona will counter with Rodrigo Lopez(notes) (2-5, 4.45), whose one-time mastery of the Red Sox is a fading memory. As a promising young right-hander for Baltimore, Lopez was 8-2 with a 3.69 ERA in his first 15 appearances versus Boston. Since then, he has gone 0-5 with an 8.77 ERA in six appearances against the Red Sox, four of them starts.
Lopez has not faced Boston since 2006.
Lopez retired 16 straight at one point Friday, but allowed five runs over seven innings of a 5-2 loss to St. Louis, falling to 0-3 with a 5.45 ERA in his last five starts.
The Diamondbacks missed a chance to win three straight for the first time since a season-high four-game winning streak May 19-22. Tuesday’s defeat also extended the club’s road losing streak to 11, matching the longest such skid in franchise history.
“I don’t know if it’s the first of many, but I think everyone here in the clubhouse is on their toes,” veteran starter Dan Haren(notes) told the team’s official website. “We did this to ourselves. We made this situation, so we’re going to have to deal with it.”
Boston has won seven straight interleague series since dropping two of three at home to the New York Mets from May 22-24, 2009.