Rays-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

After snapping their brief skid with a dramatic extra-inning victory, the Boston Red Sox are hoping Clay Buchholz can build off his outstanding start.

Buchholz looks to pitch the Red Sox to their second straight win on Sunday against Alex Cobb and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Boston (6-4) had lost two in a row before getting back on track with a 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Rays (4-6) on Saturday.

Jon Lester stepped up with seven strong innings on the mound and Shane Victorino delivered the game-winning RBI single through a five-man infield in the bottom of the 10th inning.

"Just put the ball in play," said Victorino, who is 4 for 9 in his last two games. "I've been in that spot before.''

Now the Red Sox turn to Buchholz (2-0, 0.64) as they look to take the first two of the abbreviated three-game series at Fenway Park following Friday's rainout.

Buchholz has been nothing short of brilliant, allowing one run and nine hits while striking out 12 in 14 innings in his two starts. He scattered three hits and struck out eight over seven shutout innings in a 3-1 win over Baltimore in Boston's home opener on April 8.

"He had very good stuff,'' said managed John Farrell. "You can't say enough (about) what Clay did for us."

Buchholz, however, hasn't fared as well versus the Rays lately. After going 5-2 with a 2.38 ERA in his first nine career starts, Buchholz is 0-3 with a 3.45 ERA in his last five.

He's allowed 29 hits in 31 1/3 innings during that stretch, and the Red Sox have lost each of those five starts.

Jose Molina, who went 2 for 4 with a double on Saturday, has done some damage against Buchholz with seven hits in 17 career at-bats.

Evan Longoria will try to break out of the longest streak of his career starting a season without a home run. The All-Star third baseman is 7 for 29 (.241) with three doubles and no homers in this matchup.

The Rays, who have lost four of five, will have to find a way to generate some runs after scoring just four runs in their last three games. They're also 0 for their last 17 with runners in scoring position.

"We had some good at-bats, but we had opportunities that we just came up empty," manager Joe Madden said. "And thats really the tale of the game, is the inability to drive in the run because they were out there to be driven in.''

Cobb (1-0, 0.00) didn't need much support in his first start, limiting Cleveland to four hits over 7 1/3 innings in a 6-0 home win on April 6.

"Cobbie pitched unbelievable,'' infielder Kelly Johnson said.

Cobb has won his last three outings while allowing just two runs in 19 1/3 innings dating back to last season. One of those victories came in a 4-2 win last September at Fenway, where he's 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two career starts.

All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia has yet to hit safely off Cobb in six career at-bats, while Stephen Drew has had the most success with two hits - including a double - in three at-bats.

The Rays have won six of eight at Fenway dating back to last season.

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