Jays Throw Ace at Sox

Mired in their longest losing streak in three seasons, the Boston Red Sox should receive a boost to their struggling lineup Tuesday night that might help end the slide.

The Red Sox look to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat when they open a three-game set against Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Toronto -113 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 88% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston +103 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

Boston (15-12) fell 3-0 at Tampa Bay on Sunday, extending its longest skid since dropping six in a row from Aug. 25-30, 2006. The Red Sox didn't lose more than four straight games in 2007.

The Red Sox have scored 14 runs and batted .222 during the slide. They scored 44 runs and hit .349 during a six-game winning streak that preceded the six straight losses.

After its first off day since April 7 on Monday, Boston should have David Ortiz and Mike Lowell back when they face Halladay (2-3, 3.73 ERA). The ace right-hander helped the Blue Jays (11-15) complete a three-game home sweep of the Red Sox on April 6, pitching eight innings and giving up four runs in a 7-4 victory.

"Hopefully we will use (Monday) to our advantage," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the team's official Web site. "That's the best thing we can do."

Ortiz missed the last two games due to a bruised right knee, but is expected to return Tuesday. Though he's batting .177 and went 0-for-6 on Friday, Ortiz has hit .303 with three homers and 16 RBIs in his last eight games. He has five homers in 76 at-bats versus Halladay.

Lowell, meanwhile, is expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday after being out since April 10 with a sprained left thumb.

"I don't have any pain,'' said Lowell, 6-for-30 with no homers or RBIs in nine games this season. "I'm looking forward to getting back.''

Despite his early struggles, three of Lowell's hits have come against Toronto, and he has three homers in 24 at-bats against Halladay.

Boston's Jon Lester (1-2, 5.40) will start Tuesday, ahead of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who's recovering from flu-like symptoms and is scheduled to pitch Wednesday.

Lester allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings of a 6-4 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, the defeat that began the Red Sox's slide. In his only appearance against the Blue Jays, the left-hander yielded a run and three hits over 6 2-3 innings, but didn't factor the decision in Boston's 4-3 loss Sept. 18.

Halladay is coming off his third consecutive complete game, but second straight loss. He allowed five runs in eight innings of a 5-3 defeat at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

"It's frustrating. It's disappointing. It's a number of things,'' said Halladay, who was unable to hold a 3-0 lead against the Rays.

Halladay pitched four consecutive complete games from Sept. 1-17, 2003, winning all four.

The right-hander is 10-9 with a 4.45 ERA in 30 starts versus Boston.

Opening its final series on a nine-game road trip, Toronto snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 win at Kansas City on Sunday. Scott Rolen went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs for the Blue Jays, who are 5-for-49 with runners in scoring position on the trip.

Rolen, activated Friday from the disabled list after fracturing his right middle finger in spring training, was 4-for-11 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs against the Royals.

Alex Rios, who went 4-for-5 on Sunday to push his average to .330, had three doubles and four runs in the Boston series earlier this month.

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