Red Sox-Rangers Preview

Having Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup certainly didn’t hurt,

but Adrian Gonzalez’s power resurgence was the biggest reason the

Boston Red Sox ended their skid in Arlington.

It looks like Gonzalez will have even more protection in the

lineup Wednesday night.

David Ortiz is expected to return to the middle of the order as

the Red Sox continue their series with the Rangers, who hope to

find Josh Beckett as hittable as he’s usually been when facing

Texas.

With 17 players landing on the disabled list at least once this

season, injuries have played a big role for Boston.

The Red Sox (78-50) have been able to trudge forward, but they’d

been struggling at the plate heading into Arlington. Boston had

averaged 3.7 runs while dropping five of nine as Ellsbury, Ortiz

and Kevin Youkilis missed time, and was held to four singles in

Monday’s 4-0 series-opening loss.

Ellsbury returned from a back contusion Tuesday, and he and

Gonzalez made sure the Red Sox wouldn’t be blanked again. Ellsbury

led off the first inning with a single and scored on Gonzalez’s

two-run homer, one of the slugging first baseman’s two long balls

in an 11-5 win that pulled Boston back into a tie with the Yankees

for the AL East lead.

Gonzalez had gone deep only once in 155 at-bats over his

previous 39 games

“I wasn’t hitting as many home runs, but I wasn’t worried about

it,” said Gonzalez, who leads the majors with a .346 batting

average. “I was getting on base. The main thing is we’re

winning.”

Youkilis (back stiffness) won’t be back until early September,

but Ortiz is ready after missing nine games with right heel

bursitis. Manager Terry Francona said after Tuesday’s win the

slugger – who was 13 for 26 in his last seven games before getting

hurt – will be in the lineup Wednesday.

Ortiz has 11 homers in his last 24 games in Arlington.

The Red Sox might need to score in bunches if Beckett (10-5,

2.46 ERA) pitches like he typically has versus Texas (74-56). The

right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.37 in his last six starts against the

Rangers.

Mitch Moreland, Michael Young and Josh Hamilton all took him

deep the last time he faced Texas, when he allowed six runs over

five innings of a 10-9, 11-inning road loss Aug. 13, 2010.

Hamilton is 6 for 12 with two homers off Beckett.

After surrendering five runs over five innings in an Aug. 13

loss at Seattle – his first non-quality start since the All-Star

break – Beckett fared better Thursday at Kansas City, giving up

three runs over seven innings of a 4-3 victory.

“Josh did what he’s done all year,” reliever Daniel Bard told

the Red Sox’s official website. “He battled and gave us seven good

innings.”

That’s more than the Rangers can say about Matt Harrison (10-8,

3.28) recently. The left-hander gave up six runs over 5 1-3 innings

Aug. 14 at Oakland, then surrendered four runs in 4 1-3 Friday

against the White Sox, though Texas battled back to win both

times.

“I don’t feel like I did my job tonight,” Harrison said after

facing Chicago. “It’s definitely frustrating coming off my last

outing.”

Perhaps returning home will help. Harrison is 4-0 with a 2.16

ERA in his last six starts at Rangers Ballpark.

Harrison held the Red Sox to one run over seven innings, tying a

career high with eight strikeouts, in a 5-1 win April 3. Ortiz is 3

for 7 against Harrison, but Gonzalez, Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia

are a combined 1 for 14.