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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, May 23th (All times Eastern)

Boston Red Sox (20-26) at Tampa Bay Rays (20-28), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - John Lackey (5-3, 4.01) Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (3-2, 4.59)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox have not tasted victory in nine days, and they'll try to put an end to that Friday night when they step into Tropicana Field for a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Boston is mired in a seven-game losing streak going back to last Wednesday and is coming off a 0-6 homestand. It marks the team's longest slide since losing the final eight games of the 2012 season.

"We're in a stretch of games here where we're giving up too many runs early and we're scuffling to score runs," manager John Farrell said. "That's a dangerous combination."

Jon Lester continued the trend of giving up early runs on Thursday as he was charged with all seven runs in a 7-2 setback to Toronto. In fact, the starting rotation has an 8.89 ERA over the last five games.

"It's crazy," designated David Ortiz said following Thursday's loss. "We were just talking about it in the shower, a couple of the guys. It's crazy seeing things going down like that. Just got to come back out and start playing better, man."

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay put an end to its four-game losing streak with Thursday's 5-2 victory over Oakland in 11 innings. The Rays strung together three straight hits in the frame, including a two-out RBI single by Desmond Jennings that tied the game at 2-2. Moments later, Sean Rodriguez ended it in dramatic fashion with a walk-off, three-run homer. Starter Alex Cobb pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his return from the disabled list.

It was a much needed win for the Rays, who had scored four runs and been shut out twice during their four-game skid.

Chris Archer takes the mound for Tampa Bay in Friday's opener and will be pitching on a full week's rest. In his last outing, the right-hander allowed no runs on two hits and five walks over 5 2/3 innings against the Angels on Friday night. He struck out five to earn his third win of the season.

"The one thing I've been talking to him about more than anything is tempo -- getting the ball, throwing the ball," manager Joe Maddon said. "With him in particular, I'd like him to have a little bit better pace to him. I think when he has a little bit better pace to him, he's not over thinking and the results turn out to be better."

Boston will counter with John Lackey, who is coming off one of his worst outings of the season against Detroit on Saturday. Lackey went just 5 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs off nine hits.

The right-hander did beat the Rays back on April 29 at Fenway Park, when he tossed eight innings of two-run ball as Boston won, 7-4. However, Tampa Bay went on to win two of three in that series.

05/23 10:32:10 ET