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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, July 26 (All times eastern)

Boston Red Sox (47-56) at Tampa Bay Rays (50-53), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - John Lackey (11-6, 3.66) Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 2.08)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Being the defending World Series Champions means little these days to the Boston Red Sox who are a distant last in the American League East as they prepare to challenge the Tampa Bay Rays in an American League East showdown at Tropicana Field.

On Friday the Sox kicked off a three-game set with Tampa Bay and suffered a 6-4 loss in the process, the fourth straight defeat for a team which began the second half of the season with four consecutive victories. As a result, Boston is now nine games under .500 both on the road and overall on the campaign, leaving the club 10 1/2 games out of contention in the standings.

The Red Sox actually held a 3-2 lead after six innings, but then surrendered four in the bottom of the seventh which turned the tide.

Desmond Jennings connected on his ninth home run of the season for the Rays and Ben Zobrist logged half of his team's eight hits in the matchup, but it was a three-run double by Evan Longoria that put the hosts in control en route to their eighth straight victory.

"It felt good [to come through]," Longoria said. "It's one of those things, it's definitely nice to be reminded every once in a while you can still hit in those situations. So for me it was good. But more importantly for the team, we're fighting to get back into this thing."

David Price, who has been the subject of endless trade talks for much of the season, collected his 11th win as he permitted three runs on eight hits and struck out 10 over eight innings. Jake McGee allowed two hits and a run in the ninth, but still managed to register his 10th save.

"A little bit of the swagger is back. Confidence is definitely on the rise," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said after his team won for the 12th time in the last 15 games. "In the dugout, we get behind, no big deal, we can come back. It's a really good feeling. It's the exact opposite of what we had been a couple of weeks ago. Really proud of the guys."

Boston starter Jon Lester left the game with the lead through six innings, but he ended up without factoring into the decision. Lester allowed just two runs on six hits and a walk, fanning seven, before giving way to a bullpen that gave up the lead, with Junichi Tazawa eventually being charged with the loss after being pelted for three runs on just two hits and a couple of walks in 2/3 innings.

"Uncharacteristic with him misfiring as much as he did," said Boston manager John Farrell of Tazawa. "It was just off the edge on a number of pitches. It's not typical that you see him walk a couple of guys in a given inning."

Shane Victorino, who a day earlier broke up a no-hitter in the seventh inning against Toronto on the road, knocked in two runs as he connected on his second home run of the campaign. Dustin Pedroia and Jackie Bradley Jr. both produced a pair of hits as well.

Right-hander John Lackey is back on the mound for the Red Sox tonight, shooting for his third win in a row and the fourth in the last five decisions.

Lackey, who is 13-7 in his career against Tampa Bay, to go along with a 4.07 ERA in 23 all-time appearances, last pitched on Monday at Toronto where he lasted seven innings, allowing just a single run on two hits, while striking out three.

This is the third game of the season for Lackey against the Rays, having posted a win back on April 28 when he lasted eight innings and permitted two runs. More recently he went seven shutout innings on May 23, but he failed to record a decision as Boston dropped the 1-0 contest on the road.

Coming back to the big club this weekend for the Rays is Jeremy Hellickson. The right-hander was optioned to Double-A Montgomery just before the All-Star break and is now back to make only his second appearance of 2014.

Back on July 8 the hurler went up against Kansas City for 4 1/3 innings, permitting one run on six hits and a walk, while striking out two in a no- decision.

Hellickson Now in his fifth major-league campaign, Hellickson has a record of 4-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 13 career games versus the Red Sox.

Tampa Bay enters the weekend three games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East standings, but is still 7 1/2 games out of first despite the current win streak.

07/26 10:21:11 ET

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
 
1st
LAL 4
DEN 2
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
 
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
 
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
2nd
NE 63
MAN 43
 
2nd
COLST 68
MERC 58
 
2nd
MISS 61
NARZ 51
 
2nd
WASH 57
PAC 48
 
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
1st
CHAR 22
MIAMI 26
 
1st
GAELS 21
UCI 21
 
1st
ILLST 15
ODU 4
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
 
2nd Intermission
ANA 2
ARI 0
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
2nd
NYG 21
DAL 10