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Red Sox-Orioles Preview

AP - Sports

It's been more than two years since the Boston Red Sox won two straight against the Baltimore Orioles.

Just as surprising is Jon Lester's lack of success lately in this matchup.

The visiting Red Sox look to avoid a seventh consecutive series loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

Wins against Baltimore have been very hard to come by lately for Boston, which had lost six of eight in the season series and 25 of 35 overall to the Orioles before Stephen Drew homered twice and matched a career high with five RBIs in a 7-3 victory Saturday.

"The past couple of games, I've felt good at the plate but had no luck,'' Drew said. "It's just good to turn around and have a good outcome. It was also a good win. That's what we really needed.''

The Red Sox (62-43) have lost the last six series to their AL East rivals and haven't won two in a row over the Orioles during that 35-game span. Their last back-to-back wins against them came during a 7-0 run April 28-July 18, 2011.

Boston posted a 71-28 record against Baltimore starting in 2006 and ending with those seven consecutive wins.

Lester was responsible for a good portion of that success, going 14-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his first 17 starts against the Orioles. But he's 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in the past four, allowing five runs and nine hits over five innings in a 6-3 loss at Camden Yards on June 16.

Lester (9-6, 4.50 ERA) has a chance for three straight quality starts for the first time since May. He has a 3.55 ERA in his last two outings after compiling a 7.08 mark in his previous six.

Extra rest seemed to help the left-hander Tuesday in a 6-2 win over Tampa Bay. He allowed two runs with no walks over 6 1-3 innings and matched a season high with eight strikeouts. Lester had been scheduled to make his first start after the All-Star break on Sunday, but that was delayed to give him nine days of rest.

"He was strong,'' manager John Farrell said of Lester, who has a 5.37 ERA in 11 starts on regular rest in 2013. "It seems like the added rest did him some good."

Catcher Matt Wieters is batting a team-best .378 (14 for 37) against Lester, but backup Taylor Teagarden, who is 4 for 38 (.105) this season, is expected to start.

Saturday's loss was the fourth in five games for the Orioles (58-47), who had their home-run streak against the Red Sox stopped at 11 games - one shy of the club record.

Chris Davis went 1 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts, the 21st consecutive game in which the major league home run leader has struck out. He has fanned eight times in his last three contests and hasn't homered since hitting No. 37 on July 14.

Asked how he was feeling at the plate, Davis replied, "I felt really awesome, like a unicorn riding through a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end of it. You know, you go through slumps during the season. I was very fortunate to have very few in the first half.''

Struggling Jason Hammel (7-7, 5.20) will try to reverse his own fortunes and help the Orioles avoid their first series home loss since May.

Hammel is 0-5 with a 5.47 ERA in nine starts since beating Washington on May 27. He allowed 10 hits for the second straight start and walked a season-high four, but limited Kansas City to three runs over six innings in a 3-2 loss Tuesday.

Hammel went 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox last season, both at Fenway Park.

Davis Ortiz, though, is 6 for 14 with a homer against him, and Shane Victorino (5 for 11) and Dustin Pedroia (4 for 9) also have fared well in this matchup.

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