Chicago (75-60) at Boston (76-60)

Heavy Snow Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 15° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Sep 5, 2010
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A five-game winning streak has the Chicago White Sox feeling optimistic about their postseason prospects - especially with Manny Ramirez(notes) in their lineup.

Any playoff hopes for Ramirez’s former team, meanwhile, are all but gone.

The White Sox send Mark Buehrle(notes) to the mound Sunday against the Boston Red Sox as they look to remain perfect on their road trip and complete their first three-game sweep at Fenway Park in 19 years.

Chicago (75-60) already has one sweep on this trip, taking three games from Cleveland, and it won both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader by 3-1 scores to pull within 3 1/2 games of first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.

Ramirez went 3 for 8 in his second and third games with the White Sox, who claimed him off waivers from Los Angeles on Tuesday, and Chicago was buoyed by impressive pitching as closer Bobby Jenks(notes) finished wins for John Danks(notes) and Gavin Floyd(notes).

“That’s a big key for us, our pitching,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It seems like these kids late in the year the last couple of years have stepped up big. That’s our game, pitching and clutch hitting.”

The Red Sox (76-60) totaled 13 hits - 11 singles - in the two losses, stranding 19 runners and going 2 for 15 with men in scoring position. They haven’t been swept at home by Chicago since July 27-28, 1991, a series that also included a doubleheader.

Boston has slipped 10 games behind AL East-leading New York and 7 1/2 behind Tampa Bay for the wild card, perhaps extinguishing any realistic chances of a fourth consecutive postseason berth - especially with Dustin Pedroia(notes), Kevin Youkilis(notes) and Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) gone for the season.

“If you’re losing the kind of caliber people that we’ve lost this year, it’s going to show up eventually,” right-hander John Lackey(notes) said.

Buehrle (12-10, 3.95 ERA) figures to have a good chance of extending Boston’s offensive woes.

The left-hander has gone 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA in the last 15 games. He could have had another win Monday at Cleveland after allowing three runs in six innings, but Jenks blew the lead before the White Sox won 10-6 in 14 innings.

Buehrle has posted a 10.03 ERA in losing his last two starts at Fenway, but he was 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in Boston before that.

Josh Beckett(notes) (4-4, 6.21) will start for the Red Sox, who hope a pair of promising outings signal a turnaround for their one-time ace.

The right-hander has largely struggled since signing a four-year, $68 million contract extension in April, especially while allowing at least six runs in three consecutive outings from Aug. 8-19.

Beckett, though, has responded with back-to-back quality starts, beating Seattle before allowing three runs in seven innings of a 5-2 loss at Baltimore on Tuesday.

“We expect that from Beckett,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve come for a long time to lean on him. (Tuesday) was more what he can do.”

Beckett has gone 4-1 with a 3.72 ERA in six starts against Chicago. He has never faced Ramirez.

The longtime Red Sox left fielder is playing his second series at Fenway since his unfriendly departure from Boston in 2008.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Buehrle Tor vs. J. Beckett LAD
13-13 Record 6-6
4.28 ERA 5.78
99 K 116
49 BB 45
1.40 WHIP 1.54

Scoreboard

Sunday, Sep 5