Lester looks to improve to 13-0 against Baltimore as the visiting Red Sox attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive loss Wednesday night.
Boston’s chances of reaching a fourth straight postseason appear to be dwindling. The Red Sox’s three-game skid began with a pair of frustrating losses to wild card-leading Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox (74-58) then fell 5-2 to Baltimore on Tuesday night, falling eight games behind first-place New York in the AL East and seven behind the Rays. Boston is 6-7 against the AL-worst Orioles and 27-28 against all division opponents, putting it in danger of its first losing season within the East since 2000.
“We need to get really hot make this thing interesting,” general manager Theo Epstein said. “Really hot - hotter than we’ve been at any point during the year.”
Lester (14-8, 3.12 ERA) did his part Friday at Tampa Bay, allowing one unearned run and two hits in seven innings of a 3-1 victory. The left-hander walked five, but struck out 10.
“Once they got baserunners on, he made some unbelievable pitches,” manager Terry Francona said. “He got some double plays, he got some strikeouts.”
The Orioles surely weren’t surprised about Lester’s impressive outing. The Boston ace is 12-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 15 starts versus Baltimore - the best record of any active starter against an opponent.
Lester is 2-0 in three starts against the Orioles this year, allowing one run in 19 innings.
The Orioles (49-83) must go through their nemesis if they want to win a fifth consecutive game for the first time this season. They’ve allowed three runs during their four-game winning streak, improving to 17-10 under manager Buck Showalter on Tuesday.
“It’s been fun, what can you say? We are getting pitching, we are getting defense and we are getting offense,” right fielder Nick Markakis(notes) said. “When you get all three of those, good things happen.”
Arrieta lasted four innings against Chicago on Thursday, giving up four runs, seven hits and three walks in an 8-0 defeat.
With Boston struggling offensively, the rookie may be able to bounce back. The Red Sox, who are without injured starters Dustin Pedroia(notes), Kevin Youkilis(notes), Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) and Mike Cameron(notes), have totaled 12 runs in their last five games.