Athletics-Red Sox Preview

The Boston Red Sox are hoping for better things from John Lackey

as he gets set for his first start since May 11.

He’ll come off the disabled list to oppose Oakland’s Brett

Anderson on Sunday when the Red Sox look to complete a three-game

home sweep and hand the Athletics a sixth straight loss.

Lackey (2-5, 8.01 ERA) has been sidelined due to a right elbow

strain but recently began rehabbing in the minors. He turned in a

strong effort Tuesday for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing one run and

three hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 63-pitch outing.

“My elbow felt a lot better than it has been feeling, that’s for

sure,” Lackey told the Red Sox’s official website. “I felt like I

was letting it go pretty free and easy. That’s something that I

haven’t been able to do this season.”

Lackey went 0-3 with a 10.26 ERA in his last three starts before

going on the disabled list. He now tries to avoid losing a fourth

straight start which would match a career high set Aug. 29-Sept.

17.

His return may be well-timed since he has beaten the Athletics

(27-32) more than any opponent, going 17-6 with a 2.86 ERA in his

career – mostly with the Los Angeles Angels. Oakland regulars Kurt

Suzuki (.194) and Coco Crisp (.179) have struggled against him.

The veteran right-hander has pitched well in his last two starts

against the A’s but lost both and was outpitched by Anderson (3-5,

3.68) each time. In their first matchup this season, Lackey yielded

one run over six innings in a 5-0 loss April 19 as Anderson struck

out eight and surrendered four hits in eight innings.

Anderson is 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in his last five starts against

Boston (32-26). He’s 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA in three outings at Fenway

Park.

The left-hander will be trying to forget his last outing when he

was tagged for career highs in runs (10) and hits (11) in Tuesday’s

10-3 loss to the Yankees.

“I was pretty unsuccessful all around,” said Anderson, who

allowed two homers. “Minus the home runs, I feel like I made some

pitches to get some outs that I just didn’t get.”

No active Red Sox player has ever homered off Anderson. David

Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are each 1 for 10 against him, Kevin

Youkilis is 2 for 13, Jacoby Ellsbury is hitless in nine at-bats

and Carl Crawford is 2 for 10.

Regulars for both teams could get Sunday off after Boston’s 9-8,

14-inning victory Saturday. J.D. Drew singled home Crawford with

the winning run after Oakland tied the game at 7 with four runs off

Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

That inning included Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek being

ejected by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo, as well as Pedroia

booting a potential game-ending double play grounder.

Crawford, batting .400 in his last 10 games, and Ellsbury each

had four hits while Adrian Gonzalez homered in his second straight

three-hit effort in the series.

Oakland is seeking to avoid its second six-game slide of the

season and its first three-game sweep at Fenway since Aug. 1-3,

2008.