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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, July 27 (All times eastern)

Boston Red Sox (47-57) at Tampa Bay Rays (51-53), 1:40 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - Allen Webster (0-0, 0.00) Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (6-5, 3.31)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Still two games under .500 and 6 1/2 games off the pace in the American League East, the Tampa Bay Rays have given hope to the fans over the last couple of weeks thanks to their nine game win streak. Today the Rays try to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.

With a couple of three-game sets against Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Angels coming up in the next week, the Rays have an opportunity to balance the scales at home where they are currently 24-28. The team closed the gap in that department a little bit more on Saturday when the squad blanked Boston in a 3-0 decision.

Tampa Bay scored single runs in the first, fourth and seventh innings in order to claim the win. Ben Zobrist delivered his eighth home run of the season, while Matt Joyce and Kevin Kiermaier each plated one in the victory as well.

"It was really hard to drive the ball off [John Lackey]," said Zobrist. "We scratched and clawed and got a few knocks and were able to push some runs across."

Jeremy Hellickson made the start for the hosts, making it through 4 2/3 innings as he surrendered five hits and a couple of walks, while striking out five. Grant Balfour ended up with the win, his first, and Jake McGee the save, his 11th.

Over on the other side, Lackey was saddled with the loss after permitting three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and four bases-on-balls. Lackey made it through seven innings and fanned four before exiting.

The Sox came up with eight hits, but the only one for extra bases was a double by David Ortiz. There was even a question as to whether or not the Ortiz shot to right field should have been a home run as a Boston fan reached over the railing to snag his fly ball. The fan was eventually ejected and Ortiz was one of 20 runners left on base by Boston.

"That was a homer. That was a home run," Ortiz said. "I don't care what they say. That was a homer. They [messed] up on that one right there. But I watched the whole replay -- that was a home run. They say the guy reached over. The guy, he reached over, but the pressure of the ball pulled him down. That ball was going to be over the yellow line over there."

The Red Sox have now lost five in a row, are 10 games under .500 on the road (21-31) and all alone in last place in the AL East, 10 1/2 games out of contention.

Off the field on Saturday, the Red Sox made a major change to their roster when they sent former National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for a pair of minor league pitchers, Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Peavy was a mere 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 outings for Boston this season.

A clear issue for Peavy was the lack of run support, with the right-hander being supplied with just 2.76 runs per outing, second-lowest among all AL starting pitchers.

The Red Sox also recalled pitcher Allen Webster from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, so that he could make the start in Sunday's series finale. The right-hander was 1-2 with an 8.60 ERA over eight appearances (seven starts) last season with Boston.

In 21 appearances for the PawSox this season, Webster generated a record of 4-4 and a 3.10 ERA.

Also putting a relative youngster on the mound, Tampa Bay has Chris Archer countering today. The right-hander has won his last two decisions and three of the last four, thanks to a strong effort versus Minnesota last weekend.

Against the Twins, Archer allowed just three runs -- one earned -- on six hits and a couple of walks, while striking out four over 6 1/3 innings.

Now in his third major league campaign, all with the Rays, Archer has a record of 1-2 with a 4.81 ERA in five career appearances versus the Sox.

07/27 10:26:10 ET

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