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Mon, Apr 15, 2013 - 11:05 AM ET
 

Rays-Red Sox Preview

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After Clay Buchholz's near no-hitter, Ryan Dempster has a tough act to follow as the Boston Red Sox look to wrap up a successful Patriots' Day weekend.

Following a pair of eventful victories, the Red Sox try to make it three in a row over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday morning at Fenway Park.

Buchholz, who threw a no-hitter in his second career start in 2007, didn't allow a hit Sunday until Kelly Johnson's broken-bat single leading off the eighth inning of Boston's 5-0 win over the Rays.

A day earlier, Shane Victorino supplied the heroics with the game-winning RBI single in a 2-1, 10-inning victory.

Now the Red Sox (7-4) send Dempster to the mound as they hope to win all three in this shortened series following Friday's rainout. Dempster (0-1, 3.60 ERA) has allowed three runs in five innings in each of his two starts - both losses.

The veteran right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his last five against the Rays, but only one of those starts has come since 2003 - back in 2008. He's made things tough on James Loney (2 for 16), Kelly Johnson (1 for 11) and Yunel Escobar (1 for 9).

Boston appeared to be on the verge of winning Dempster's last start against Baltimore on Wednesday, up 5-3 the ninth, but closer Joel Hanrahan surrendered five runs in an 8-5 loss.

Hanrahan has allowed six runs, five hits, four walks and three homers in his last three appearances and won't be around for this contest. Hanrahan, obtained from Pittsburgh in the offseason, is expected to miss a few days with a sore right hamstring. Andrew Bailey figures to handle the duties in the ninth in the interim.

"We've got to let this settle down first before we get him back into game availability," manager John Farrell said.

Farrell's club has allowed just one run and nine hits over 19 innings in this series. The Rays (4-7) have struggled offensively most of the season, pushing across eight runs with no homers and a .160 batting average while dropping five of their last six games.

"We've got to hit the ball better to get everybody's spirits up,'' Tampa Bay Joe Maddon said. "When you're not hitting the ball well, you get that bad vibe among the group. It's hard to really keep them pushing, moving or motivated. But we'll get going. We're just not hitting the ball.''

The Rays will try to get something going for Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 6.35), who gave up three runs and five hits in five innings in last Monday's 5-4 loss at Texas.

Hellickson, though, may have better results at Fenway Park, where the Rays have won four of his five career starts despite a 4.97 ERA

Jacoby Ellsbury and Will Middlebrooks have gone a combined 4 for 26 with no extra-base hits and nine strikeouts against Hellickson.

Dustin Pedroia, 5 for 22 lifetime against the right-hander, broke out a 1-for-10 slump over his previous three games by going 3 for 4 on Sunday.

Tagged: Red Sox, Rays, Ryan Dempster, Kelly Johnson, Joel Hanrahan, Jeremy Hellickson

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