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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, May 21st (All times Eastern)

Boston Red Sox (20-21) at Baltimore Orioles (27-15), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.77) Baltimore - Tommy Hunter (2-2, 4.78)

(Sports Network) - The last time that Boston visited Baltimore, the club wrapped up an epic September collapse that kept it out of the playoffs for a second straight season.

The Red Sox have a bit more momentum this time around and they aim for a third consecutive victory in the first of three straight games against the hosting Orioles.

Boston held a nine-game lead in the American League Wild Card race last Sept. 2, but went only 7-20 in the month and lost out on the spot on the season's final day, when it dropped a 4-3 decision in Baltimore after failing to hold a one-run lead in the ninth. The Red Sox became the first team in MLB history to fail to make the playoffs when holding a nine-game lead in September.

The 2012 season didn't get off to a great start for the Red Sox either as they lost 10 of their first 14 games and were 7 1/2 games back of first place after getting swept in three games at home by the Orioles on May 4-6.

Though Boston has won nine of 14 since and still sits 6 1/2 contests behind the first-place Orioles in the AL East, it is now just a game behind the Yankees for fourth in the division.

The Red Sox continued their surge over the weekend, hitting nine homers while taking two of three from the hosting Phillies. Two of those homers came in Sunday's 5-1 victory, including Jarrod Saltalamacchia's three-run bomb in the third inning.

Mike Aviles led off the game with a homer for the second day in row, only the second player in Red Sox history to accomplish that feat and first since Harry Hooper in 1913.

"Trying to get on base. I'm fortunate enough to get the ball out of the park early and set the tone," Aviles said.

Josh Beckett earned the win, allowing a run over seven innings.

The Red Sox hope that Clay Buchholz can continue to lower his earned run average when he makes the start tonight.

The right-hander sat 3-1 with a 9.09 earned run average through his first six outings, but has lowered it to 7.77 thanks to a pair of solid outings. Buchholz beat the Indians on May 11, allowing three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings, before giving up a season-low two runs in six frames on Wednesday against Tampa Bay. However, he took a 2-1 setback.

Buchholz, 27, turned in his shortest outing of the season on May 6 against Baltimore, a game the Orioles won 9-6. He did not get a decision despite allowing five runs over 3 2/3 frames. Buchholz allowed a pair of solo homers to J.J. Hardy and a three-run shot to Robert Andino, giving him lifetime numbers of 5-3 with a 3.79 ERA against Baltimore.

Baltimore starter Tommy Hunter also logged his shortest outing of 2012 on that day and opposes Buchholz again tonight. Hunter also did not factor into the decision of that outcome, charged with five runs over 4 1/3 frames. That left the righty with a 2-1 record and 7.02 ERA in seven career starts versus the Red Sox.

Hunter is winless since April 24, going 0-1 in four starts. He logged a no- decision in Kansas City on Wednesday, yielding two runs on seven hits and a walk over seven frames. He is 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA in eight starts, but holds a home ERA of 2.42 in four games.

The Orioles, who lead the AL East by two games over the Rays, look to get back on track after having a five-game win streak end with Sunday's 9-3 setback at Washington.

Wei-Yin Chen lost his first major league game (4-1), allowing six runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 frames. He also gave up a homer to Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg.

"He got hurt a lot with the breaking ball today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I don't think he gave up a base hit on the fastball, but he paid the price and made a lot of mistakes with his breaking ball today, that was pretty much the difference."

Xavier Avery, Nick Markakis and Andino knocked in runs for the Orioles, who also lost for the first time in 10 road games.

The Orioles have won seven of their last eight versus the Red Sox.

05/21 10:49:59 ET

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