After rallying to end their skid in Baltimore, the Boston Red Sox are hoping Jon Lester can deliver another win by adding to his stellar record against the Orioles.
Lester, though, has hardly been at his best lately and is slated to pitch opposite a red-hot Miguel Gonzalez in Sunday's series finale.
Boston (42-28) had dropped five in a row at Camden Yards and four in a row overall to the Orioles before holding on for a 5-4 win Saturday. The Red Sox trailed 2-0 after the first inning, but Mike Carp hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Stephen Drew followed with an RBI double to put them ahead for good.
Those efforts snapped an 18-inning scoreless streak in this four-game series.
"We feel like we're going to mash every day. It just takes one guy to get going, fortunately today it was me," Carp said. "Tomorrow it's going to be another guy and so on and so forth."
That rally pushed the Red Sox 2 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore (39-30) in the AL East and they'll try to leave town with a bigger lead with help from Lester (6-3, 4.12 ERA). The left-hander is 14-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 career starts against the Orioles and is 7-0 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 all-time games in Baltimore.
Lester, though, also suffered his lone defeat to the Orioles in his most recent matchup Sept. 21 and enters this game having gone 0-3 with a 6.90 ERA in his last five starts overall.
He gave up a season-worst seven runs and matched a career high with seven walks in an 8-3 defeat in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
"This one, obviously, it is what it is," Lester said. "It's just terrible. I did a terrible job of helping our bullpen out, a terrible job of keeping the ball down in the zone. The list goes on. This is solely on me. These guys count on me to go out there and throw innings, and I didn't do that tonight. I just flat out didn't get it done."
Lester might have to outduel Gonzalez (4-2, 3.71) when he attempts to win for the first time since May 15. The Orioles right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last two starts and gave up one run over a season-high eight innings in a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
"Miggy was tough. Boy, he was good. He was really good," manager Buck Showalter said.
Gonzalez, who is expecting his first child to arrive sometime during the upcoming week, is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two career starts against Boston, both last season.
In this matchup, Gonzalez will try to get some help from major league hits leader Manny Machado, who is riding a career-best 13-game hit streak. Machado extended that run with his major league-best 31st double and finished 2 for 4 Saturday.
The third baseman is batting .426 (20 for 47) in his last 11 games against Boston. He went 0 for 3 in his only matchup with Lester.
Red Sox rookie Jose Iglesias has a 16-game hit streak. He has one single in three career at-bats against Gonzalez.