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White Sox-Red Sox Preview

AP - Sports

The last time Ryan Dempster took the mound, he couldn't catch a break - from the Yankees or, later, the commissioner's office.

The right-hander will look to get it together on Friday night as he leads the Boston Red Sox into a three-game series with the streaking Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.

In his last start, Dempster (6-9, 4.77 ERA) was pounded by New York, surrendering seven runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-6 loss on Aug. 18.

Most memorably, Dempster plunked Alex Rodriguez after throwing behind him earlier in the same at-bat, leading to a five-game suspension from Major League Baseball.

"He's a guy that clearly knows his delivery," Red Sox manager John Farrell told the team's official website. "He knows his routine and what to prepare even if there's been an extended downtime, and more than anything, I think the downtime gives him a boost."

In his return from suspension, Dempster will look to snap a rough stretch that has seen him post a 6.81 ERA over his last seven starts. Prior to his current skid, he had allowed three runs or fewer in eight straight starts.

Dempster has faced the White Sox just once since 2010, but he's 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA in his last six starts against them - all coming while he pitched for the Cubs.

Jeff Keppinger has had his number with 13 hits in 29 at-bats.

Adam Dunn has also fared well against Dempster with two home runs and 13 walks in 30 plate appearances.

Dempster will look to help the Red Sox (79-56) maintain their 2 1/2 game lead in the AL East. Through Saturday, Boston and Tampa Bay were tied atop the division, but the Red Sox have won three of four since while the Rays have lost four of five.

The White Sox (56-76) will shoot for their third straight win and 11th in 13 games led by a suddenly potent offense. Chicago, which ranks last in the AL with 502 runs, is averaging five per game over its last 12.

The White Sox have been led by Avisail Garcia, whose three-run home run Wednesday helped lift Chicago to a 6-1 victory over Houston. He's hitting .352 in his first 19 games since coming over from Detroit, but the homer was Garcia's first since the trade.

"It's nice that he got it," manager Robin Ventura said. "But again, he is young and you're just letting him play. The strength and speed that he has is unusual for a lot of major leaguers."

The White Sox will look to help give Hector Santiago (4-7, 3.25) his second win in 12 starts after they've provided him with just 23 runs over his last 11 starts. Poor run support was again partially to blame on Saturday, when the left-hander allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings of Chicago's 3-2 walk-off win over Texas.

After five scoreless frames, Santiago ran into trouble with two outs in the sixth, yielding a single and a home run.

"He gets himself in trouble," Ventura said. "He has the stuff to get out of it, which is a nice thing to have."

Santiago gave up two runs, three hits and four walks over six innings while striking out nine in a 6-2 home loss to Boston on May 22.

David Ortiz had two hits in that game but is hitless in his last 22 at-bats for the Red Sox, who lost 3-2 to Baltimore on Thursday.

"It's not the end of the world," Ortiz said. "You know what I'm saying? Papi can struggle, too. I'll be back."

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