April 19, 2011
BOSTON (5-10) vs.
Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on CSN Plus
OAKLAND (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics' offense has stepped up over the last two games, and John Lackey looks to slow it down - much like he has throughout his career.
Lackey takes the mound Tuesday night when the Boston Red Sox visit Oakland to start a two-game set.
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The right-hander has beaten the Athletics more than any other team, going 17-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 31 career starts.
However, Lackey (1-1 15.58 ERA) struggled in his first two starts of 2011, allowing 15 runs in 8 2-3 innings. He gave up six runs in five innings April 8 in Boston's 9-6 win against the New York Yankees, and manager Terry Francona opted to skip his turn in the rotation after Thursday's game against Tampa Bay was rained out.
Opponents are hitting .395 against Lackey, but pitching coach Curt Young believes he'll be ready to go despite the long layoff.
"He's a guy that has great command, great aptitude for pitching, and like I said, he knows Tuesday will be here in a hurry," Young told MLB.com. "Ten days feels like a long time when you're a starting pitcher like that, but he's a guy that has such great command, I don't think there should be any issues."
The Red Sox (5-10) will be looking for their fourth straight victory after beating Toronto 9-1 on Monday in their best offensive performance of the season. Boston pounded out a season-high 13 hits, led by Jed Lowrie's 4-for-5, four-RBI outing.
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Lowrie, who is 8 for 14 with two homers and seven RBIs during Boston's win streak after being inserted into the starting lineup, downplayed his torrid hitting.
"You don't think about it," said Lowrie, who is 9 for 28 (.321) with 10 RBIs lifetime versus the A's. "You just continue to do what you're doing and go out there and just let it happen."
Oakland (8-8) got a boost from its offense over the weekend, scoring 11 runs in victories Saturday and Sunday against Detroit.
Josh Willingham drove in two runs and Mark Ellis doubled twice in Sunday's 5-1 win, giving the Athletics two straight home wins after losing four of their first five in Oakland.
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"Big offense, up and down the lineup," manager Bob Geren said. "Great win going into the off-day. Just a nice way to finish off the weekend."
However, the offense has provided little for left-hander Brett Anderson (0-1, 2.29 ERA) in his three starts, giving him three total runs of support in his 19 2-3 innings pitched. He allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday and left trailing 3-1 before Oakland rallied for a 7-4, 10-inning win.
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Anderson has been solid versus Boston, going 3-1, 2.61 ERA lifetime. After losing his first career start against the Red Sox, he's 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 24 strikeouts in the last four.
Anderson and Lackey faced each other Sept. 11, with Anderson earning a 4-3 victory. Lackey allowed three runs in seven innings, while Anderson also pitched seven and yielded two.
Oakland has won four of the last five meetings.