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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, August 8th (All times Eastern)

Texas Rangers (64-45) at Boston Red Sox (55-56), 1:35 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Texas - Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.17) Boston - Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.54)

(Sports Network) - Josh Beckett heard the boos the last time he left the Fenway Park mound. He can turn that crowd around this afternoon if he delivers the Boston Red Sox a series win in the rubber match of their three-game series with the Texas Rangers.

Beckett left his last start back on July 31 against Detroit with back spasms. Despite the injury, the Red Sox faithful let him hear it, as he is just 1-5 with a 4.94 ERA in his last nine starts.

"He'll only be limited if his back hurts again," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "His arm is fine. I don't think he'll be limited."

Beckett, who is 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA on the year, has already lost twice to the Rangers this season and is just 3-4 lifetime against them with a 4.91 ERA in 10 starts. In four career starts against Texas at Fenway Park, Beckett is 0-2 with a 6.66 ERA, his worst against any American League team at home.

Texas, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Matt Harrison, who is 13-6 with a 3.17 ERA. Harrison ended a personal two-game losing streak on Friday in Kansas City, as he held the Royals to a pair of runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"I need to make my pitches and get after guys, stay aggressive and get deep in the game," Harrison said. "This team is swinging the bat well and they're getting guys back healthy. It's all about executing pitches and sticking to the game plan and then we'll see what happens."

Harrison, who has a major league best nine road wins, is 3-1 in seven games (5 starts) against the Red Sox with a 6.10 ERA.

Texas bounced back from a loss in Monday's opener on Tuesday, as Ryan Dempster pitched into the seventh inning to get his first win in a Rangers uniform, and Ian Kinsler drove in two runs in a 6-3 triumph.

Traded by the Cubs at the July 31 deadline, Dempster (1-0) took a no-decision in his Texas debut, a 15-9 Rangers win on Thursday versus the Angels. Tuesday's game was much different for the veteran right-hander, who gave up six hits and three unearned runs, coming on a homer by Will Middlebrooks. Dempster struck out six over 6 2/3 innings.

"The tone was set by Dempster. He kept those bats off balance," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He moved the ball around, had a good slider. He was able to spot his fastball down in the zone."

Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus had insurance RBI hits over the final two innings for the AL West leaders.

Jon Lester (5-10) was charged with six hits and four runs over 6 2/3 innings. The lefty fell to 0-5 over his last seven starts. Lester also has double-digit losses in a season for the first time in his major league career. He's 2-8 at Fenway Park this year.

"He was throwing the ball down in the zone," Valentine said. "He walked a couple of guys tonight, but he threw the ball really well. We can knit-pick it all we want...he pitched pretty good."

Cody Ross doubled twice for the Red Sox, who have lost five of their last seven contests.

Texas has won five of seven from the Red Sox this season.

08/08 10:37:23 ET