Beckett Goes For Sox
Kevin Youkilis was on the bench for his first major league game in his hometown, and the Boston Red Sox could only muster one run.
As he returned to the lineup, so did Boston's high-octane offense.
A day after Youkilis' 10th-inning homer secured a win, the Red Sox will look to make it two out of three over the Reds on Sunday as they conclude their first visit to Cincinnati since the 1975 World Series.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston –150 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -150 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Boston (43-28) has scored the fourth-most runs in the majors, and came into the weekend set having averaged seven runs during its recent three-game series with Baltimore.
But with Sean Casey returning to Cincinnati - where he was one of the team's most popular players for eight years - and no designated hitter slot to work with, Youkilis sat as the Red Sox lost 3-1.
On Saturday, Boston's batting order didn't feature Manny Ramirez, who sat out with a sore hamstring and is questionable for the series finale.
But Youkilis, who grew up in town and attended the University of Cincinnati, was in the lineup. He went 3-for-5 and hit a solo homer in the 10th to lift Boston to a 6-4 win an inning after Jonathan Papelbon suffered his third blown save.
"I know he was very excited," manager Terry Francona told the team's official Web site. "I don't blame him, he ought to be. I wish we had three positions where he could have played Friday night."
The Red Sox were just 11-19 on the road on May 30. But after taking three of four from Baltimore and winning on Saturday, Boston now has a chance to capture back-to-back series away from Fenway Park for the first time since August.
"We needed to get a win here and get some wins on the road, have a good series and have a chance to win the series," said Youkilis, who will be looking to homer in his third straight game.
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It'll be up to Josh Beckett (6-4, 4.22 ERA) to give Boston its fifth road win in seven games. Beckett was on the mound at Fenway on Tuesday for only the second Red Sox home loss in their last 19 games.
He went six innings and gave up four runs on eight hits but didn't factor in the decision in Baltimore's 10-6 win.
Beckett is 8-1 with a 3.59 ERA in his last nine interleague starts. He's 0-2 with a 14.14 ERA in two career starts against the Reds, both coming when he was with Florida.
Cincinnati (33-37) threw its best starters - Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez - at the Red Sox in the series' first two games. On Sunday, they'll turn to struggling 22-year-old Homer Bailey.
Bailey was thought of as one of the minor leagues' best pitching prospects, but that talent hasn't translated to the majors thus far in his young career.
He had control problems in nine starts in 2007, though he went 4-2 with a 5.76 ERA, and he's gotten statistically worse in his two starts this season.
Bailey lasted just 3 2-3 innings in St. Louis on Tuesday, giving up five runs on eight hits in a 7-2 loss.
"He found the heart of the plate too much," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official Web site. "He was throwing the ball with good velocity. He didn't have a feel for his breaking ball ... (and) they sat on his fastball."
One Reds player who has stepped up lately has been Edwin Encarnacion. The third baseman, who tied Saturday's game by homering off Papelbon, is hitting .438 (7-for-16) in his past five games.
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