The Red Sox look to stay on top in the AL East with their 11th win in 14 games Tuesday night when they host a Philadelphia team looking to win its fifth straight game with Lee on the mound.
Boston (32-20), which has won four in a row, grabbed a one-game lead in the division Monday when Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli homered to key a 9-3 win while the New York Yankees lost.
"We're just trying to come out and win every day," Napoli told the team's official website. "We're not looking at the standings. We're worried about the team that's in there right now. We're just trying to win every day."
Jacoby Ellsbury added three hits as the Red Sox earned their ninth win in 11 home games against the Phillies (24-27), who need a win Tuesday to split their eight-game road trip.
"When you really think about it, a loss is a loss,'' manager Charlie Manuel said. "We come back out tomorrow and it's still 0-0.''
Manuel's club appears to be in a better spot with Lee (5-2, 2.48 ERA) before the series moves to Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday and Thursday.
Since going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA over a three-start stretch, Lee is 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA over his last four - all Phillies victories.
The left-hander had his best performance Wednesday, firing a three-hitter in a 3-0 win at Miami.
"I felt like I got better as the game went on," said Lee, who has allowed three or fewer runs in eight of 10 starts.
Lee, however, hasn't had that kind of success against the Red Sox, going 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 12 career starts. He allowed five runs and nine hits - two homers - over seven innings in a 5-1 home loss to Boston on May 20, 2012.
However, several of Boston's key hitters have struggled against Lee, including Ellsbury (1 for 12), Jonny Gomes (2 for 29), Stephen Drew (1 for 9) and David Ortiz (6 for 29). Napoli, though, is 5 for 16 with a homer and a double.
The Red Sox counter with struggling right-hander Ryan Dempster (2-5, 4.69), who seeks his first win in five starts.
Dempster hasn't made it to the sixth inning in each of his last three starts, allowing 15 runs and 20 hits over 12 2-3 innings over that span. He had his worst start yet Thursday, walking four and giving up four runs over three innings in a 12-3 loss to Cleveland.
"My command has been terrible,'' said Dempster, who has walked 10 over his two outings. "Bottom line is I've got to fix that. I can't get myself in that kind of trouble.''
Dempster hasn't had much success versus the Phillies, going 1-4 with a 7.01 ERA in his last 11 starts.
Ryan Howard, who has been battled a sore left knee, is 5 for 14 with two homers lifetime against Dempster. He's hitting .348 with three doubles and three RBIs on the road trip but hasn't homered since May 7.
Domonic Brown, who hit a two-run shot Monday, is batting .333 with three homers and nine RBIs over his last seven games.
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Cliff Lee
- Mike Napoli