Red Sox-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox face a big challenge this week as they try to get back on track after a dismal series.

The Texas Rangers are also struggling and have a difficult road ahead, but at least they'll be at home.

The AL West-leading Rangers, who haven't played in Arlington since the All-Star break, open a 10-game homestand Monday night against a Red Sox team trying to avoid falling under .500 for the first time in five weeks.

Texas (56-38) returns home after dropping two of three to Los Angeles, causing its division lead over the Angels to slip to five.

"We came here to win the series ... it didn't happen," Adrian Beltre told the Rangers' official website after Sunday's 7-4 setback. "We'll just keep playing baseball and keep winning series."

The Rangers have a four-game series with Los Angeles next week at home, which comes after hosting Boston and the Chicago White Sox. The competition is stiff, but Texas owns the AL's best home record at 29-16.

Boston (48-48) arrives in Texas after being swept in three games at home to Toronto, and then travels to New York for a weekend showdown with the AL East-leading Yankees. With Sunday's 15-7 loss, the Red Sox fell behind the Blue Jays into last place in the division, 9 1/2 games back of New York. They're also 3 1/2 out of the league's second wild card and are in danger of dropping below .500 for the first time since June 16, when they were 32-33.

"We've just got to figure out a way to get that (momentum) going," Cody Ross told the Red Sox's official website. "We have to forget about this and then start off again (Monday) and just keep grinding."

After surrendering 28 runs against Toronto, Boston hopes to get better pitching Monday from Felix Doubront (10-4, 4.24 ERA). The left-hander gave up a run and four hits in six innings in Wednesday's 10-1 win over the White Sox, and has a 2.70 ERA in three starts this month.

"Whatever happens, I want to keep fighting to get more wins," said Doubront, who has been at his best on the road, going 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last five outings away from Fenway Park.

He'll be facing a Texas offense that is third in the majors with 473 runs, but hasn't been particularly intimidating lately, averaging 3.1 runs while going 6-9 this month. Josh Hamilton is in the middle of this July slump, batting .164 with three homers and five RBIs.

He was 6 for 9 with six RBIs in helping the Rangers sweep a two-game series at Fenway in April, however, and is batting .381 with 23 RBIs in 22 games against the Red Sox since 2010.

Boston's Adrian Gonzalez has also fared well in the series, especially at Rangers Ballpark, where he hit .464 with five homers and 11 RBIs in seven games last season. He hit a three-run homer Sunday, and is batting .438 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in eight games since the break.

The Red Sox lead the majors with 479 runs, and they could be poised for a big day Monday with Scott Feldman (3-6, 5.89) slated to take the ball for the injured Roy Oswalt (back).

Feldman, who threw two scoreless innings of relief in his most recent appearance July 8, hasn't started since yielding four runs and six hits in a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the White Sox on July 4. The right-hander was 2-5 with a 7.34 ERA in his final eight starts before being sent to the bullpen.

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