Phillies-Red Sox Preview

The last time he faced the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox

right-hander Tim Wakefield won his first game in more than 10

months. When he takes on the Phillies this time, the veteran

knuckleballer will go for his first victory at Fenway Park in

nearly a year.

Trying to beat the slumping Phillies for the second time in less

than a month, Wakefield gets the ball Sunday when the Red Sox try

to sweep their series.

Facing Philadelphia for the first time in four seasons,

Wakefield (2-4, 5.48 ERA) threw eight shutout innings in an 8-3 win

at Citizens Bank Park on May 23 for his first victory since July 8

against Oakland. Since that 5-4 win against the Athletics,

Wakefield is 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA in nine appearances at Fenway

Park.

The 43-year-old, though, won his second straight road start

Tuesday, retiring 15 straight at one point in a 3-2 victory against

Cleveland. A member of the Red Sox since 1995, Wakefield

surrendered four hits in 7 1/3 innings to move past Roger Clemens

for the franchise lead with 2,777 innings pitched.

“Wake was nails,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “That’s

kind of neat on a night he sets a record. He pumped a lot of

strikes and used his fastball and breaking ball at times, too.”

Wakefield will try to help the Red Sox (37-27) win their seventh

straight at home over the Phillies. Called up from Triple-A

Pawtucket before the game, Daniel Nava became the second player in

major league history to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw,

sparking Boston to a 10-2 victory and its eighth straight series

win in this matchup.

He came up the next inning with the bases loaded but struck out

on a check swing.

“I wanted to treat it like I normally do,” said Nava, the 10th

player in Red Sox history to homer in his first at-bat. “I just

said, `How are you guys doing (to umpire Bill Hohn and catcher

Brian Schneider)?’ They didn’t say anything.”

Nava added a double and J.D. Drew went 3 for 4 with a homer to

lead the 16-hit attack. The Red Sox are batting .418 with 15

extra-base hits in the series.

Philadelphia (31-29) hasn’t been nearly as successful at the

plate, scoring four total runs and batting .216 in its last three

games.

Philadelphia, which has lost 17 of 23, will try to get back on

track with Cole Hamels (5-5, 3.98) on the mound. The left-hander is

trying to avoid losing four straight starts for the first time

since June 11-28, 2006.

Hamels did not allow a hit through 7 1/3 innings Monday against

San Diego before Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Hairston hit

back-to-back solo homers.

“You don’t expect to get beat by solo home runs, but

unfortunately, I’ve had a few of those in there,” Hamels told the

Phillies’ official website following the 3-1 loss. “But I just have

to go out there and keep plugging away.”

Hamels, 1-3 with a 7.48 ERA in five career interleague road

starts, struck out eight and pitched seven innings of three-hit

ball in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Red Sox on May 21.

Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez will likely be behind the plate

Sunday after getting Saturday off. Martinez, who is batting .438

with five home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 20 games, is 2 for 6

with a homer lifetime versus Hamels.

Boston has won 19 of 24 against Philadelphia.