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Thu, Aug 25, 2011 - 8:05 PM ET
 

Red Sox-Rangers Preview

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The Boston Red Sox are getting healthy again. They would like to see the same thing happen to their slim division lead.

Boston will try Thursday night for its third straight win over the Texas Rangers, who are hoping to stop their edge in the AL West from shrinking further.

The Red Sox (79-50) are alone again atop the East after Wednesday's 13-2 rout of the Rangers, combined with the Yankees' 10-inning loss to Oakland. Boston, which leads New York by one game, has six contests remaining against its archrival, starting with three next week at Fenway Park.

After missing nine games with bursitis in his right heel, David Ortiz had two hits and scored twice Wednesday. He's batting .484 (15 for 31) during an eight-game hitting streak, and .301 with eight homers and 17 RBIs in his last 18 at Rangers Ballpark.

"He was moving today pretty good. Nothing wrong with his heel, he's been faking it," Texas manager Ron Washington said before chuckling.

Boston has 24 runs and 30 hits in the last two games after being blanked on four hits in the series opener.

Jacoby Ellsbury, in his second game back Wednesday after missing three with a back injury, finished with three hits and three runs, adding his 23rd homer and his 35th stolen base. Carl Crawford, who tied a career high with five RBIs, has hit safely in all seven games on the Red Sox's road trip.

Mike Napoli had his second homer of the series and an RBI single Wednesday for the Rangers (74-57), who have dropped five of seven.

Texas, which had a seven-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels after beating them Aug. 17, has seen its edge reduced to 2 1/2 games - with a visit from the Angels looming this weekend.

"All you can do is bounce back," Washington said. "... You come back tomorrow and you try to put your game together and hope you can get the game intact on the mound."

Alexi Ogando (12-5, 3.30 ERA) will try to become the Rangers' second 13-game winner when he takes the mound Thursday.

Though Ogando is 2-0 in four August starts, his 5.64 ERA is by far his highest in any month this year. Opponents are hitting .333 against him this month after batting .212 before that.

The right-hander yielded two runs and six hits in seven innings Saturday, but didn't get a decision in Texas' 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Ogando, who's yet to face Boston as a starter, is 1-3 with a 5.94 ERA against the AL East in 2011. Seven of the 12 homers he's surrendered have come versus East foes.

He has allowed one run in 4 1-3 innings in four career relief outings against the Red Sox.

With 45-year-old Tim Wakefield's scheduled start pushed back a day, Boston's Andrew Miller (5-1, 4.99) will try to build off a solid return to the rotation as he starts against Texas for the first time.

The left-hander limited Kansas City to a run and three hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 7-1 win Friday. It was Miller's first start since July 31 following two relief appearances.

Miller has given up just four runs in 17 innings over his last four road games, including three starts.

Tagged: Red Sox, Rangers, Andrew Miller, Alexi Ogando

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