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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 13th (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (4-2) at Boston Red Sox (1-5), 2:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - David Price (1-0, 2.84) Boston - Josh Beckett (0-1, 13.50)

(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox hope a return home will be the cure for what ails them.

With just one win through their first six games, the Red Sox kick off their home slate with the first of four games against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.

Today's contest will also be the first for Bobby Valentine as Boston's skipper inside the ballpark that a week from today will be celebrating its 100th birthday.

"I'm really looking forward to getting into Fenway and getting the fans on our side," Valentine said. "It's been a long time. We've been on the road a couple of months.

"I know the guys are [looking forward to it]. They love playing there. I'll be with them. I've been told 1,000 times, 'Welcome to Boston.' I haven't really been in Boston yet, so it will be great to get to Boston."

The Red Sox, who opened their season a year ago by losing their first six games, started their season by losing all three games in Detroit, then followed that up by dropping two of three to Toronto, including a 3-1 setback on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.

Jon Lester (0-1) was the hard-luck loser in that one after allowing three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six in his seventh career complete game. As good as he was though, Toronto's Ricky Romero was even better and at one time retired 17 straight Red Sox batters, while holding them to three hits on the day.

"When he's on, he's on," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "He wasn't making that many mistakes and he went through every hitter. When things get like that, it's tough to hit."

Hoping for a little run support this afternoon will be righty Josh Beckett, who was hit hard by the Tigers in his season debut. Beckett couldn't get out of the fifth inning in that one, as he allowed seven runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings to get the loss.

"That first start's always [iffy]," Beckett said. "You've got a lot of anxiety leading up to that. You want to do well. A lot of times, you expend too much energy on things that don't help you be successful."

He is 9-4 lifetime versus the Rays, though, with a 2.94 ERA in 19 starts.

Opposing Beckett this afternoon will be Tampa left-hander David Price, who struggled with his control on Saturday against the Yankees but still picked up the win. Price surrendered two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 frames, while also walking four batters.

Price has faced the Red Sox 10 times and is 6-3 with a 3.16 ERA.

"I'm looking forward to it," Price said of Friday. "They have a very good team. It's always a very good series when we play them. Fenway's a tough place to play."

Tampa enters today's matchup on a sour note after dropping a 7-2 decision to the red-hot Tigers on Thursday. Carlos Pena hit a solo home run for the Rays, who lost two of three in the series, but are off to a 4-2 start.

Jeff Niemann (0-1) allowed three runs on four hits in five full frames to suffer the loss. He struck out six and walked two.

"I felt pretty good today," Niemann said. "It kind of got away from us in the fifth."

Tampa was 12-6 versus the Red Sox last season, with seven of those wins coming at Fenway.

04/13 10:40:28 ET