Yankees-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

Coming home to face the New York Yankees should provide the Boston Red Sox with plenty of motivation to bounce back from a rough road trip.

Looking to avoid matching a season-high third straight defeat, the Red Sox try to continue their season success against the archrival Yankees on Friday night.

Boston (72-51) has a two-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East, but went 4-6 at Houston, Kansas City and Toronto. It totaled 23 runs and three homers while losing five of the last seven to the Royals and the Blue Jays, capped by Thursday's 2-1 defeat at Toronto.

"We've got to go home and regroup," said manager John Farrell, whose team went 6 for 34 with runners in scoring position and stranded 33 runners in three games with Toronto.

The Red Sox have hit .303 while outscoring New York (62-58) 46-29 to win six of nine in 2013.

Fourth in the East, the Yankees are 8 1/2 back of Boston and six games out of the final wild-card spot. Their five-game winning streak was snapped Thursday with an 8-4 loss to Los Angeles.

"It's playoff baseball for us right now," manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees' official website. "I think the guys enjoy the challenge, I really do. They understand what we have to do.

"We have to win a lot of games, we have to win series and we have to play extremely well."

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte (7-9, 4.62 ERA) is 0-3 with a 5.47 ERA in his last five starts. That stretch began at Boston on July 19, when he allowed three of his four runs on two homers in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 loss. He'd given up a run in eight innings of a 4-2 home victory over the Red Sox on April 4.

The left-hander allowed eight hits and walked three over 4 1-3 innings but yielded only one run while throwing 101 pitches during Sunday's 5-4 victory over Detroit.

For an eighth consecutive start, Pettitte gave up a first-inning run. He's yielded 15 in the first during that span for a 16.88 ERA. This season, he has a 8.57 ERA in the first inning, surrendering 20 earned runs in 21 innings, and opponents are hitting .406 (39 for 96) in that frame.

Boston slugger David Ortiz is a lifetime .359 hitter - including the postseason - versus Pettitte, but has only one homer in those 64 at-bats. He's batted .364 against the Yankees this season but is 3 for 20 in his last five overall.

Teammate Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 20 in the final four games of the trip but has hit .370 (10 for 27) against Pettitte.

Boston starter Felix Doubront (8-5, 3.66) is 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees, including 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 2013.

The left-hander yielded five hits and threw 95 pitches over seven innings of a 4-0 win over Arizona on Aug. 4, but gave up three runs, six hits and walked four while throwing 98 in four frames of a 5-3 victory at Kansas City on Saturday.

Doubront will try to cool off Alfonso Soriano, who had four hits Thursday and is 10 for 14 with four homers and 14 RBIs in the last three games.

"I feel good at home plate," Soriano said. "I hope I continue hitting like this and help the team to win."

Alex Rodriguez, likely to be booed often this weekend, is 7 for 21 in his last five contests. However, he's 5 for 25 with eight strikeouts in his last six at Fenway.

New York signed veteran slugger Mark Reynolds, who was released last week after he hit .215 with 15 homers, 48 RBIs and struck out 123 times in 99 games for Cleveland.