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                === Red Sox set for series opener in Houston ===
 
 (Sports Network) - Worst meets first at Minute Maid Park on Monday, as the AL-
 leading Boston Red Sox are set to open a three-game series with the last-place
 Houston Astros.
 
 Boston has notched wins in five of its last six games and currently lays claim
 to  the top  record in the American  League. Monday's game kicks off a stretch
 that will see the Red Sox play 16 of 19 on the road.
 
 They  are coming  off Sunday's  4-0 win  over Arizona  behind seven  scoreless
 innings from starter Felix Doubront. It marked their major league-leading 23rd
 series  victory of  the season, although the  team leads Tampa Bay by only one
 game in the American League East.
 
 "We're  a  long way from  where we want to  be," right fielder Shane Victorino
 said.  "We've  got to  continue to do  it, not lose  focus. Every game counts.
 We've  got a tough stretch ahead of us. We've got to stay after it. We haven't
 gained  any ground  other than a half  a game on Tampa. So they're still right
 there  with us. But we're not worried about what they're doing. We control our
 own destiny."
 
 The Astros are happy to return home after a 2-8 road trip.
 
 Houston  suffered its  fourth consecutive  loss with  Sunday's 3-2  setback in
 Minnesota.  Starter Brad  Peacock allowed only four hits in seven innings, but
 two  of those hits  left the yard and that was all the cushion the Twins would
 need.
 
 The  Astros could  certainly use another strong outing from Brett Oberholtzer,
 who  made  his big league  debut against the  Orioles on Wednesday and allowed
 only three singles over seven shutout innings. He also struck out six batters.
 
 "I'm  excited,  and I'm looking forward  to it," Oberholtzer said of his first
 home  start. "I'm going to pitch to my strengths and see what their weaknesses
 and  strengths are. That's what pitching is about, making pitches at the right
 time.  For me, it's keeping speedy guys off base and making the power guys hit
 weak contact and try to eat up innings."
 
 Red  Sox starter John Lackey pitched into the seventh inning in all six of his
 July  starts and posted  a 3.67 ERA in that span. He will take the hill Monday
 and faced Seattle his last time out, yielding three runs on 10 hits over seven
 innings. He also fanned six but came away with a no-decision.
 
 Boston leads the all-time series with Houston, 11-2.
 
 08/05 10:43:16 ET