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Tampa Bay at Boston

Venue: Fenway Park
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Tampa Bay's starting pitchers have mostly mowed through opposing lineups during a stretch that has them on the verge of taking the division lead.

Roberto Hernandez has been the lone exception, but he'll get the ball looking to lead the Rays to a seventh straight win when they visit the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

The Rays (59-41), who were seven games back of the Red Sox (60-41) on June 29, could take over Boston's spot atop the AL East with another victory after Matt Moore's two-hitter in Monday's 3-0 series-opening win.

"I really believed we were going to get back into it,'' manger Joe Maddon said. "I didn't know when.''

Tampa Bay has won 18 of 20 behind a starting staff that has posted a 2.11 ERA and delivered 17 quality starts. On Monday night, the Rays picked up their fifth shutout in 20 games - tying them for the AL lead with 12.

"They came in playing good baseball," Boston right fielder Shane Victorino said. "We talked about it before the game, it's going to be a tough series for us."

Boston, which had won 14 of its previous 17 at Fenway Park, is now in danger of losing a home series for the first time since the Blue Jays took two of three there May 10-12.

The Red Sox are 5-2 at home against Tampa Bay this season despite scoring only 20 runs and hitting .201.

The Rays hope to keep Boston off balance again Tuesday, but they'll be handing the ball to the one pitcher in their rotation who's been less than excellent during their hot stretch.

Moore, Chris Archer, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson all have posted ERAs below 2.65 during this 20-game run, while Roberto Hernandez (5-10, 4.90 ERA) has been decent if unspectacular. He's 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three July starts, all against Houston or Minnesota, going six innings and allowing three runs in each.

Hernandez had one of his better starts of the season in his lone outing against the Red Sox. He held Boston to three runs in seven innings while matching a season high with seven strikeouts in the Rays' 8-3 home victory June 11.

The right-hander has stifled Dustin Pedroia, holding him to a double in 14 at-bats. David Ortiz, however, is 9 for 22 off Hernandez with three doubles and a home run.

Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58) counters for the Red Sox as he tries for a fourth time to equal his 2012 win total. The left-hander won his first six decisions with a 2.72 ERA, but he's gone 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA in 11 starts since.

Lester has lost his last two, most recently yielding three runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-0 loss at Oakland on July 13.

"I'm not pitching the way I feel like I should or want to be," Lester told the team's official website. "At the same time, I think there are a lot of positives within some of those games that I try to take."

The biggest positive for Lester on Tuesday is that he'll be at home. He's 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA at Fenway.

Lester was solid in his first two starts against the Rays this season, posting a 1.93 ERA, before surrendering a season-worst seven runs, seven walks and three homers while losing to Hernandez on June 11.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Probable Starters

Roberto Hernandez, RHP
2013 stats
108.1 Innings Pitched 125.2
5-10 Wins-Losses 8-6
4.90 Earned Run Average 4.58
25 Walks 45
84 Strikeouts 103
95 Pitches Per Start 107
Career vs. opponent
51.2 Innings Pitched 150.2
3-4 Wins-Losses 11-9
3.66 Earned Run Average 4.36

Jon Lester, LHP
Weather
weather image  a few tstorms. Overcast. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
81°F68°F8mph/S78%86%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Tampa Bay4th AL East6568.489114-6 W 1
Boston5th AL East5875.436182-8 L 1
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jon Lester
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Joyce84212.500
Jennings228114.364
Molina238035.348
Escobar309056.300
Longoria47102717.213
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Roberto Hernandez
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Iglesias32001.667
Nava42000.500
Ortiz229124.409
Drew31021.333
Saltalamacchia103013.300
 

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Injuries
Tampa Bay
PlayerInjury
T. BeckhamKnee
D. DeJesusHand
M. MooreElbow
J. PeraltaIllness
J. SandsWrist
Boston
PlayerInjury
X. BogaertsConcussion
R. DempsterNeck
S. VictorinoBack
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 29BOSBOS 7-4Lackey Gomes 
Apr 30BOSPPD   
May 1BOSTB 2-1Gomes Peavy 
May 1BOSTB 6-5McGee Uehara 
May 23TBTB 1-0Oviedo Miller 
May 24TBTB 6-5Ramos Miller 
May 25TBTB 8-5Peralta Breslow 
May 30BOSBOS 3-2Miller Oviedo 
May 31BOSBOS 7-1De La Rosa Odorizzi 
Jun 1BOSBOS 4-0Lester Bedard 
Jul 25TBTB 6-4Price Tazawa 
Jul 26TBTB 3-0Balfour Lackey 
Jul 27TBBOS 3-2Webster Archer 
Aug 29TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 30TB 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 31TB 1:40 PM EDT  
Sep 1TB 1:10 PM EDT  
Sep 23BOS 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 24BOS 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 25BOS 7:10 PM EDT