Major League Baseball
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American League Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, May 16th (All times Eastern)

Boston Red Sox (17-19) at Tampa Bay Rays (23-14), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - Clay Buchholz (4-1, 8.31) Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.95)

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays shoot for their fourth straight win tonight in the opener of a brief two-game series versus the American League East-rival Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.

The Rays will also host Atlanta and Toronto on their eight-game homestand and recorded a two-game sweep of Toronto with Tuesday's 4-3 win. Sean Rodriguez homered to highlight a decisive three-run seventh inning for the Rays, who have won three in a row since losing six of seven games and are tied with Baltimore atop the AL East standings.

Rays starter David Price was credited with the win after allowing three runs on six hits over seven frames, while Ben Zobrist added three of the club's 12 hits. The Rays went 4-4 on their eight-game road trip.

"I thought [Price] got better with the game in progress," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think if we needed him to he could have pitched the eighth inning."

Before the game, the Rays placed pitcher Jeff Niemann on the 15-day disabled list due to a fracture in his right fibula suffered on Monday. The team recalled pitcher Josh Lueke from Triple-A Durham to fill the roster spot.

Hoping to keep the Rays in the win column tonight will be Jeremy Hellickson, who is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA in seven starts. He has recorded three straight no- decisions and previously pitched in Friday's 4-3 loss at Baltimore in which he gave up three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Hellickson faced Boston at Fenway Park on April 14 in a 13-5 setback and did not figure into the decision despite permitting five runs in five innings. He is 2-1 with a 4.99 ERA in six career games (5 starts) against the Red Sox.

Boston is on a roll lately and has won five in row, one shy of its season high set from April 23-28. It will open an eight-game road trip this evening against the Rays, Phillies and Orioles, and completed a two-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

Josh Beckett rebounded from a poor outing the previous time out and held the Mariners to four hits over seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and two walks. Rich Hill and Alfredo Aceves both threw a scoreless inning of relief.

"I felt like today I just kept the ball down," Beckett said on his 32nd birthday. "I feel like I got my fingers on top of the ball, so even when it was up, I still had some angle to my pitches."

Mike Aviles contributed two hits and two RBI, while David Ortiz homered and scored twice for the Red Sox.

Clay Buchholz draws the start for Boston tonight and he is 3-0 over his last four starts. In a 7-5 win over Cleveland on Friday, Buchholz tossed 6 1/3 innings for the win and allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. The win lifted his record to 4-1 in seven starts with a lofty 8.31 earned run average.

Buchholz, a right-hander, defeated Tampa Bay back on April 14 even though he allowed five runs in seven innings. He is 5-2 with a 2.38 ERA in nine career starts in this series.

Boston won three of four meetings with the Rays from April 13-16 after losing 12 of the 18 matchups a season ago.

05/16 10:59:17 ET