Red Sox-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

With home-field advantage in the AL still up for grabs, the Boston Red Sox won't take it easy during the final week of the regular season.

John Lackey looks to build on his best start of the year when the Red Sox visit the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night looking for an eighth win in 10 road games.

Headed to the postseason for first time in four years as East champions, Boston (95-62) hopes to hold off Oakland and Detroit in the race for the league's best record.

"We're going out to win games and be aggressive," said Felix Doubront, the winning pitcher in Sunday's 5-2 victory over Toronto. "We'll try to go hard every game."

Lackey (10-12, 3.44 ERA) likely won't let up after striking out eight during his two-hit gem in Thursday's 3-1 victory over Baltimore. The right-hander did not give up a hit until Adam Jones' homer in the seventh inning, then yielded a single to J.J. Hardy in the eighth to bounce back after he allowed 11 runs and 15 hits in 12 innings of his previous two starts.

"I felt pretty good," Lackey told the Red Sox's official website. "My arm felt good. It was fun."

In preparation for the playoffs, Boston originally intended to pitch Lackey out of the bullpen during this two-game set at Coors Field. However, they decided to push Jake Peavy to Wednesday and start Lackey on Tuesday and in Sunday's regular-season finale at Baltimore.

"We still want to play a good brand of baseball," manager John Farrell said. "We don't see the clinching of the division as a breather. It's a matter of continuing on and playing a very sound brand of baseball."

Lackey fanned a season-high 12 and gave up two runs over seven innings in a 5-3 home victory over Colorado on June 26, but pitching at Coors Field for the first time since 2010 might not be as easy. He's 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA in five road starts since the All-Star break.

The Rockies (71-86) have little to play for this week, but Michael Cuddyer still has the NL batting title in his sights. After missing the previous three games with a sore left wrist and forearm, Cuddyer raised his average to .334 with three hits in Sunday's 13-9 loss to Arizona.

He went 4 for 9 with two homers as Colorado was swept in two games by the Red Sox in June. With a solo shot off Lackey in that series, four of Cuddyer's seven hits in 22 at-bats against him have been home runs.

Boston's Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia each went 5 for 9 in that series.

Pedroia is 2 for 2 with a walk against the Rockies' Tyler Chatwood (7-5, 3.36), who gave up four runs over six innings in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to St. Louis. The right-hander has a 4.34 ERA in four September starts since returning from a month on the DL due to right elbow inflammation.

Chatwood gave up two runs and walked five in six innings in his only start against Boston, a 2011 outing with the Los Angeles Angels.

This will be the second-to-last home game for Colorado's Todd Helton, who will retire after 17 seasons. He had three hits and four RBIs on Sunday and is 12 for 30 in eight home games - including a pair in the 2007 World Series - versus Boston.

"It's good knowing that I can go out and be productive and help the team every once in awhile," Helton told the Rockies' official website.