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Red Sox-Orioles Preview

AP - Sports

While the Boston Red Sox have been known over the years for a powerful lineup, the Baltimore Orioles are showing they will take a back seat to no one this season when it comes to hitting the long ball.

The AL East rivals wrap up a three-game series Wednesday when the Orioles try to add to their major league-leading home run total at the expense of the Red Sox.

Baltimore (28-16) has 67 homers, a total padded by a pair of two-run shots in Tuesday's 4-1 victory. Steve Tolleson staked the Orioles to a lead in the second inning and Wilson Betemit put the game out of reach with his in the eighth.

The division-leading Orioles have also delivered those home runs in the clutch - 28 have come in the seventh inning or later - and are 16-3 when hitting two or more.

"Every night is someone different," Tolleson told the team's official website after hitting his first homer with Baltimore. "... It's a lot of fun to be in this clubhouse right now."

Daniel Bard (3-5, 4.85 ERA) will be charged with the task of slowing down the Orioles while trying to avoid a fourth loss in five starts. The right-hander battled control problems Friday, when he walked five over five innings and allowed five runs - four in the first - of a 6-4 defeat at Philadelphia.

Bard admitted a leadoff walk to Jimmy Rollins set a tone he couldn't mentally battle through, telling the team's official website, "I didn't respond to it well. When you get out of your delivery a little bit, the best thing to do is step off, take a breath and hit the reset button.

"I never did that. I tried to power through it a little bit."

Bard is making his first start against the Orioles after compiling an 0-2 record and 3.27 ERA in 20 relief appearances, conceding two homers in 22 innings. He has pitched well at Camden Yards, though, allowing four earned runs and two walks - one intentional - while striking out 15 in 13 2-3 innings.

Adam Jones is the only Oriole to have homered versus Bard and is 2 for 8 lifetime against him.

The Red Sox (21-22) were denied in their bid to get over .500 for the first time this season in losing for only the third time in 12 games. There was a bright spot as Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup for the first time since April 29 and homered in his first at-bat.

"That's as good a swing as I've seen Youk have,'' manager Bobby Valentine said. "Center field power. That was a good sight.''

Jake Arrieta (2-4, 4.72) had a needed bounce-back outing Friday for the Orioles but didn't get a win to show for it. The right-hander limited Washington to one run in seven innings and matched a season high with nine strikeouts before the Orioles won 2-1 in 11. He had been tagged for 13 runs and 19 hits in 10 innings in losing his previous two starts.

"(I) wanted to try to command multiple pitches in the zone, and when I got ahead just finish guys off,'' Arrieta said.

Arrieta has not finished much off versus the Red Sox, going 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in three lifetime starts. Both losses came last year, when he was roughed up for nine runs and 15 hits in 11 1-3 innings.

Adrian Gonzalez is 5 for 8 with a double and a homer against Arrieta.

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