Red Sox-Orioles Preview

The fading Boston Red Sox are badly in need of a victory.

Sending Jon Lester to the mound against the Baltimore Orioles

should be a good way to get one.

Lester looks to improve to 13-0 against Baltimore as the

visiting Red Sox attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive loss

Wednesday night.

Boston’s chances of reaching a fourth straight postseason appear

to be dwindling. The Red Sox’s three-game skid began with a pair of

frustrating losses to wild card-leading Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox (74-58) then fell 5-2 to Baltimore on Tuesday night,

falling eight games behind first-place New York in the AL East and

seven behind the Rays. Boston is 6-7 against the AL-worst Orioles

and 27-28 against all division opponents, putting it in danger of

its first losing season within the East since 2000.

“We’ve got to win games,” infielder Jed Lowrie said. “We don’t

have any other choice.”

In a move possibly related to the club’s shrinking hopes, the

Red Sox traded reliever Manny Delcarmen to Colorado for a minor

league pitcher Tuesday.

“We need to get really hot make this thing interesting,” general

manager Theo Epstein said. “Really hot – hotter than we’ve been at

any point during the year.”

Lester (14-8, 3.12 ERA) did his part Friday at Tampa Bay,

allowing one unearned run and two hits in seven innings of a 3-1

victory. The left-hander walked five, but struck out 10.

“Once they got baserunners on, he made some unbelievable

pitches,” manager Terry Francona said. “He got some double plays,

he got some strikeouts.”

The Orioles surely weren’t surprised about Lester’s impressive

outing. The Boston ace is 12-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 15 starts versus

Baltimore – the best record of any active starter against an

opponent.

Lester is 2-0 in three starts against the Orioles this year,

allowing one run in 19 innings.

The Orioles (49-83) must go through their nemesis if they want

to win a fifth consecutive game for the first time this season.

They’ve allowed three runs during their four-game winning streak,

improving to 17-10 under manager Buck Showalter on Tuesday.

“It’s been fun, what can you say? We are getting pitching, we

are getting defense and we are getting offense,” right fielder Nick

Markakis said. “When you get all three of those, good things

happen.”

Jake Arrieta (4-6, 5.10) looks to extend the Orioles’ run of

strong pitching as he faces the Red Sox for the first time,

although the right-hander has lost his last three starts.

Arrieta lasted four innings against Chicago on Thursday, giving

up four runs, seven hits and three walks in an 8-0 defeat.

With Boston struggling offensively, the rookie may be able to

bounce back. The Red Sox, who are without injured starters Dustin

Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, have

totaled 12 runs in their last five games.