Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview


The Boston Red Sox are no longer in last place in the AL East.

That could change if Jon Lester isn't better than in his last outing against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lester will try to rebound from one of his wildest starts Sunday when the visiting Red Sox go for their first three-game winning streak since July.

Entering this series having dropped 13 of 15 and with six straight losses to Toronto (65-79), Boston (66-80) is now in position for its first road sweep since April 23-25 versus Minnesota.

The Red Sox moved percentage points ahead of the Blue Jays in the East with Saturday's 3-2 victory and could win three straight for the first time since a four-game stretch July 28-31.

"It's a good sign we're not laying down and dying,'' said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who scored the go-ahead run on Pedro Ciriaco's ninth-inning double. "We're continuing to fight even though we're as far out as we are. It shows a lot about this team. It's a good sign.''

So is Lester's 4-1 record and 3.66 ERA in his last six starts. The left-hander, though, walked a career-high seven in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees.

"I wasn't giving myself a chance," Lester told the Red Sox's official website after striking out five to move ahead of Bruce Hurst for the most by a Red Sox left-hander with 1,044. "I wasn't in good pitchers' counts. I just didn't have a feel for anything. It was one of those nights where I had to battle through it."

Lester (9-11, 4.99 ERA) is 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA in his last nine starts at Rogers Centre, but he was awful the last time he faced Toronto - getting tagged for career highs of four homers and 11 runs in a 15-7 home loss July 22.

The Red Sox, whose last three-game road win streak spanned May 23-June 2, will face Brandon Morrow (8-6, 3.16) for the first time in 2012.

The right-hander failed to give Toronto a season-best fifth straight victory Tuesday, giving up four runs and a career high-tying 11 hits in a 4-3 loss to Seattle.

Morrow posted a 2.60 ERA in his first three starts after returning from a strained left oblique Aug. 25.

"He wasn't as powerful, wasn't as sharp,'' Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Morrow hasn't been sharp at all versus Boston, going 1-3 with a 11.45 ERA in seven starts.

Ciriaco, a .167 hitter (4 for 24) against Toronto, has never faced Morrow, but Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury have enjoyed plenty of success off the right-hander. Pedroia, who was 0 for 3 with a walk Saturday after missing two games due to the birth of his second son, is 9 for 17 with two homers and four doubles against Morrow, while Ellsbury is 8 for 16 with three home runs.

Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion, among the major league leaders with 40 homers, is 4 for 21 with one homer - a two-run shot in a 10-4 loss at Boston on June 27 - versus Lester.

The Blue Jays are 10-7 against Boston this season, but 3-5 at Rogers Centre.