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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, July 5 (All times Eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (46-39) at Boston Red Sox (38-47), 1:05 p.m. & 7:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Game One:Baltimore - Miguel Gonzalez (4-5, 4.56) Boston - Jon Lester (9-7, 2.92

Game Two: Baltimore - Ubaldo Jimenez (3-8, 4.31) Boston - John Lackey (9-5, 3.62)

(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of American League East division foes will get a late start on the weekend when the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles play a double-header at Fenway Park on Saturday.

The two teams were originally scheduled to begin the series on Friday, but the contest was postponed due to inclement weather brought on by Hurricane Arthur.

Saturday's matchups will be the 11th and 12th between these two division rivals this season. The two squads have split the first 10 matchups, including a four-game split at Fenway from April 18-21.

Baltimore is 16-8 in Boston since September of 2011 and leads the AL East by mere percentage points ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays. The club has helped itself to the top of the division with four straight wins and 11 in the last 16 tries, and just completed a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers.

In Thursday's 5-2 victory over the Rangers, Steve Pearce set a new career-high with four hits and drove in two runs. He has reached base safely in seven straight and 14 of the past 15 games. Nick Hundley finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for Baltimore, which is a season-high eight games over .500 and went 7-4 on the homestand.

Hundley has now scored a run in five straight games, a new career-high.

"We're relying in some people and people are stepping up," Pearce said afterward. "We're pitching, we're hitting, we're having timely hitting. We're finding ways to get it done."

The Orioles once again held on to a lead after eight innings, improving to 40-3 when that occurs. They won Thursday's game without the aid of a home run for the first time since April 26 versus Kansas City. The O's had hit multiple homers in six consecutive games before last night and led the majors with 46 home runs in June.

Wei-Yin Chen collected the win over Texas by limiting the visitors to two runs across six innings and is now 8-3 on the season. Zach Britton came on in the ninth and registered his 12th save.

Baltimore averaged just over five runs per game on its recent homestand and will visit Washington as well on this road trip. Miguel Gonzalez hopes to get some of that support when he toes the rubber in the first game of the double- header. He is 4-5 with a 4.56 earned run average and 1-2 in his last three decisions.

Gonzalez did not factor in the outcome of a 12-7 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday and was touched for three runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He has allowed three or more runs in three straight starts (10 total). The right-hander, who is making his fourth start since being placed on the disabled list June 6 with an oblique injury, is 3-0 lifetime with a 3.13 ERA in five games (3 starts) against Boston. He has a 1-0 mark in three appearances (1 start) at Fenway.

The Red Sox will take their swings at Gonzalez in hopes of erasing a recent three-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs. The series began a 10-game homestand for the Red Sox, who were embarrassed to the tune of 16-9 in Wednesday's finale.

Chicago had a 19-16 advantage in hits and belted four home runs. Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer -- the first of his career -- and both Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia ended with three hits in defeat.

Brandon Workman allowed two homers in the start and gave up six runs in four innings. He walked three and struck out three for Boston, which trailed 6-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.

"It was a rough night on the mound," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I will say a number of positive things offensively, but not enough to come back from the deficit."

The Red Sox had won three of four games before this past series and dropped to 4-9 since June 19. They will host the Chicago White Sox for four games next week and have a 20-22 record at home.

Jon Lester will make the start for Boston in the first game of the day. Lester is 9-7 with a strong 2.92 earned run average and will try for his fourth straight winning decision. He improved to 3-0 in his last four starts and 5-1 in the previous six decisions in Saturday's 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium, where he outdueled Masahiro Tanaka and surrendered only an unearned run in eight innings.

Lester will make his ninth start at Fenway Park (4-4) and has enjoyed success in his career against the Orioles, going 15-4 in 26 starts with a 2.92 ERA. He has thrown at least five innings in every start against Baltimore.

The left-hander is only 2-4 in seven day starts.

The second game of the double-header features a pitching matchup that pits Boston's John Lackey against Baltimore's Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jimenez, who is in his first season with the Orioles, has not had the same type of success he had in 2013 with Cleveland. The right-hander has produced just a 3-8 record and his 4.31 ERA is just over a run higher than it was at the end of last year's campaign.

In his best start of the season, Jimenez allowed just a single unearned run over a season-high eight innings of work to help Baltimore to a 7-1 win over Texas last Monday. The win ended a streak of four straight losing decisions for Jimenez.

Jimenez faced Boston twice in April with very little success, going 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in those two starts. He has never really managed to figure out the Red Sox, posting a miserable 9.31 ERA in six career starts against them.

On the other side, Lackey will be attempting to bounce back from consecutive rough starts.

Lackey was sailing along with a 2.96 ERA and six-straight starts giving up three runs or fewer when he ran into Seattle on June 23. The veteran right- hander let up a season-high seven runs in the contest, working just 3 2/3 innings. The struggles continued six days later when he faced the Yankees and allowed five runs, four of which were earned, over a laborious five innings.

Those two outings inflated his ERA to 3.62, although he split the decisions, losing against Seattle and defeating New York to improve to 9-5.

A win on Saturday would give Lackey 10 wins in 11 of his 12 seasons in the majors. The only year he did not get to double-digits in victories was his rookie season (2002) when he went 9-4 in 18 starts.

Lackey pitched well in his first outing against Baltimore this season, allowing two runs over six innings in the second game of the season. However, he was then lit up for six runs, while tying a season-high by allowing 10 hits, a few weeks later. In 25 career starts he has been more consistently successful against the Orioles, earning a 14-6 record and 3.55 ERA against them in 25 total starts.

07/05 10:29:34 ET

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