Rays-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

Friday's series opener between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays was washed out by rain, but it won't disrupt what appears to be a prime pitching matchup for Saturday's tilt.

Jon Lester will look to continue a strong start to the season as he takes the mound for Boston on Saturday at Fenway Park, while Tampa Bay will hope David Price can bounce back from a shaky second outing.

The series, scheduled for four games, did not begin on Friday as planned. Rain forced the contest to be postponed and rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader for June 18. Alex Cobb and Felix Doubront were set to pitch, but will have their starts moved to Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.

Meanwhile, the enticing Lester-Price matchup for Saturday remains intact.

Lester's season is off to a sparkling start for Boston, as he's 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 12 innings. He threw seven innings of five-hit ball in a 13-0 win at Toronto on Sunday.

"A lot of quality strikes," manager John Farrell said. "He delivered the ball downhill. He carried his stuff through the full seven innings."

Price (0-1, 8.18 ERA), on the other hand, looked nothing like the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner in his latest start. He yielded a career-high eight earned runs on 10 hits and three walks in five innings of a 13-0 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

He might have a good chance to get back on track against Boston. The Rays (4-5) have won eight of Price's last 11 starts against the Red Sox (5-4), including a complete-game effort at Fenway on Sept. 25, 2012, as he struck out 13 and allowed two runs on seven hits.

"(We are) trying not to disrupt Price, certainly, and minimize Cobb's interruption, as well," pitching coach Jim Hickey told the team's official website, discussing the decision to not move Price's start. "I mean, there's no easy way with two consecutive days off."

The outright postponement of Friday's contest, as opposed to just a delay, might prove to be helpful for a somewhat overworked Red Sox relief corps. The bullpen was tagged with the loss against Baltimore in each of Boston's last two games, recording a 6.75 ERA over a combined eight innings.

"One thing you want to stay away from is the start and stop within a game," Farrell told the team's official website. "And that's where your bullpen can get overworked or get a little bit thin, because you don't want to push a guy into a situation where he's got a 45-minute or an hour delay, and if it's after three or four innings, then you're looking at five innings out of that bullpen."

Ben Zobrist has eight RBIs in his last seven games against Boston, but he's struggled during his career against Lester. Zobrist, hitting .364 this season with nine RBIs, is 8 for 35 (.229) against Lester with 15 strikeouts.

Lester is 10-8 in the regular season against the Rays but has lost his last four starts in the series, allowing six home runs while posting a 7.71 ERA.

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