Chicago (43-51) at Boston (56-39)

Showers Currently: Boston, MA, US
Temp: 47° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 20, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Josh Beckett may be bidding for his 13th win on Friday night, but he hasn’t enjoyed much success in his recent outings at Fenway Park.

He’ll look for just his second home win since the start of June when the Boston Red Sox continue a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox.

Beckett (12-3, 3.35 ERA) can match Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia for the major league lead in victories. The Los Angeles AngelsJohn Lackey also has 12 wins and pitches Friday at Minnesota.

The Red Sox starter, however, is just 1-3 with a 5.93 ERA in his last five outings at home. He pitched well at Fenway Park on Sunday, but was on the wrong end of a difficult 2-1 loss in which he was outdueled by Toronto rookie Jesse Litsch despite allowing two runs over eight innings.

“I was the second-best pitcher today,” Beckett said. “Bottom line: get outpitched, you lose. And that’s what happened today.”

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.66 ERA in two career starts against Chicago (43-51).

Boston (56-39) is trying to avoid just its second four-game losing streak of the season after falling 4-2 on Thursday. The Red Sox have dropped eight of their last 11, and their lead atop the AL East over the New York Yankees has been cut to seven games.

One player slumping for the Red Sox is first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who is 3-for-27 (.111) in eight games since the All-Star break. Youkilis had a big first half, hitting .328 with 44 RBIs, but he didn’t start six of the final seven games due to a hamstring problem.

Boston’s J.D. Drew was out of the lineup Thursday as he continues to be bothered by a balky hamstring. He went 1-for-12 earlier in the week in a three-game set against Kansas City.

Chicago evened its record through eight games of an 11-game road trip as A.J. Pierzynski drove in three runs and Javier Vazquez won his fourth straight decision. Pierzynski, who is 10-for-22 (.455) on the trip, had an RBI single in the first inning and a go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth.

“A.J. came up big for us, two times,” Chicago center fielder Jerry Owens said.

White Sox starter Jose Contreras (5-11, 5.32) has been awful in losing four straight starts for the first time in his career, posting a 7.03 ERA in that span. He gave up five runs over six innings in a 5-3 loss at Baltimore on Sunday.

“The problem is he didn’t get ahead in the count. When he’s ahead in the count he can use his split-finger fastball,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He got behind in the count almost every hitter. It’s kind of tough seeing a guy with his stuff losing games.”

Contreras went 0-5 with a 13.95 ERA against Boston in nine career appearances, including five in the postseason, while pitching for the Yankees.

Since being traded to Chicago on July 31, 2004, he’s 4-0 with a 3.51 ERA in five starts against Boston. The White Sox have won each of those games, including a 14-2 victory in the opener of their 2005 division series.

Contreras has excelled since the start of the 2004 campaign against Boston sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz in the regular season. Ramirez is 3-for-18 (.167) against him in that period while Ortiz is 2-for-16 (.125).

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Starting Pitchers

J. Contreras TEX vs. J. Beckett LAD
10-17 Record 20-7
5.57 ERA 3.27
113 K 194
62 BB 40
1.56 WHIP 1.14