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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

TV
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
WAS 4
CAR 2
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
DET
 
Final
TAM 8
BOS 11
Final
STL 2
MIA 3
Final
WAS 0
NYM 2
Final
MIN 3
NYY 1
Final
DET 3
PIT 7
Final
BAL 3
TAM 4
Final
TOR 10
PHI 6
Final
TEX 10
CHC 15
Final
LOS 1
CWS 2
Final
MIL 4
CIN 10
Final
SFG 4
COL 3
Final
CLE 8
SEA 6
Final
ANA 10
OAK 13
Final
ARI 8
TEX 7
Final
ATL 5
HOU 8
Final
SDP 1
KAN 4
1:05pm Today
PHI
ATL
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
HOU
DET
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
TAM
 
1:05pm Today
BOS
TOR
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
WAS
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
STL
 
3:05pm Today
OAK
ANA
 
3:05pm Today
KAN
LOS
 
4:05pm Today
CIN
ARI
 
4:05pm Today
SEA
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
SFG
CLE
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
MIL
 
4:05pm Today
CWS
SDP
 
4:10pm Today
COL
TEX
 
7:05pm Tonight
BAL
PIT
 
Final
DET 105
ATL 95
Final
BRK 111
IND 106
Final
MIA 81
SAN 95
Final
LAC 106
GSW 110
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
SAN
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
SAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
DEN
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
NOP
 
Final
TEMPL 57
MIAMI 60
Final
EVAN 79
TENNM 66
Final
NARZ 68
YALE 61
Final
ODU 60
STAN 67
8:00pm Tonight
LAMON
LOYC
 
Final
WAS 4
CAR 2
Final
BOS 3
FLA 2
Final
CLB 3
NJD 2
Final
DET 1
OTT 2
Final
TOR 3
TAM 1
Final
WIN 2
NYR 3
Final
NAS 4
VAN 5
7:30pm Tonight
BUF
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
PIT
PHI
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
EDM
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
COL