The Red Sox wrap up a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays with a big matchup Sunday night at Tropicana Field.
The clubs have split the first eight games in St. Petersburg this season. The ninth and final meeting will have major ramifications in the playoff race, especially for the Sox.
Boston dropped a 3-2 game to Tampa Bay on Saturday night to fall 5 1/2 games behind both the Rays and New York Yankees. Tampa Bay travels to Fenway Park in the first full week of September to finish the season series.
WHEN AND WHERE
Red Sox (74-56) at Rays (79-50) Sunday, Aug. 28, 8:00p.m. ESPN Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla. Live Blog
HEAD TO HEAD
The Rays own an 9-5 season series advantage.
RHP John Lackey (12-7, 4.51 ERA) vs. RHP James Shields (12-11, 4.76 ERA)
Lackey is coming off a win over Seattle at Fenway Park six days ago. He allowed two earned runs and struck out a season-high 10 in eight innings of work.
This will be Lackey's fourth start vs. Tampa Bay this season. He gave up eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings in the first one, but just three in 13 1/3 over the next two. Lackey is 11-3 lifetime vs. the Rays.
Shields has had some difficult moments this season but he has won five of his last seven decisions. He is 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA vs. Boston in 2010.
Marco Scutaro, SS J.D. Drew, RF Victor Martinez, C David Ortiz, DH Adrian Beltre, 3B Mike Lowell, 1B Daniel Nava, LF Darnell McDonald, CF Yamaico Navarro, 2B
John Jaso, C Ben Zobrist, 2B Carl Crawford, LF Evan Longoria, 3B Carlos Pena, 1B Matt Joyce, RF Dan Johnson, DH B.J. Upton, CF Jason Bartlett, SS
Catcher Victor Martinez is 7-for-9 with three home runs in the series.
Martinez and David Ortiz combined to go 7-for-9 in Saturday's loss. The rest of the lineup was 3-for-29 without a walk.
Rookie Felix Doubront has at least one strikeout in all eight of his relief appearances.
Tampa Bay is 7-4 in extra-inning affairs.
Center fielder B.J. Upton has five home runs in his last 24 games after hitting eight in his first 100.
Closer Rafael Soriano has given up just two runs in his last 16 2/3 innings.
BLACK AND BLUE
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had his broken left foot put back in a boot Thursday, where it will stay for seven days. After one week, he will either continue his rehab or face season-ending surgery.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has another broken rib near where he was hurt earlier in the year, the result of a collision at first base in Texas. He is out four to six weeks at minimum and will likely miss the remainder of the season.
Center fielder Mike Cameron will have season-ending surgery Friday to repair an abdominal tear.
First baseman Kevin Youkilis had successful surgery to repair the torn right adductor muscle on his right hand. He will miss the remainder of the season.
Catcher Jason Varitek (broken right foot) continues to try to recover from a broken right foot. He has yet to be able to run at full speed, one of the last major obstacles before he can eye a rehab stint.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is on the DL with an infection in his lower right leg. He has been released from the hospital and will begin a rehab assignment with Pawtucket at the end of the week.
Outfielder/second baseman Eric Patterson has also begun a rehab stint with Pawtucket. He is out with a neck strain.
Left-hander Hideki Okajima is on the DL with a right hamstring strain. He threw a side session Friday and may be activated Saturday.
Right-hander Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He is out for the year.
Left fielder Carl Crawford was a late scratch Saturday with a stomach bug.
Outfielder Gabe Kapler (sprained right ankle) hopes to return Sept. 1.
Right-hander Grant Balfour also hopes to be back at the start of the month. He is on the DL with a rib cage strain.
Left-hander J.P. Howell had season-ending shoulder surgery May 19.
The Red Sox acquired John Lackey to provide depth to their starting rotation and bring aboard a guy who has pitched in big games before. Sunday marks his biggest game in a Red Sox uniform.