Public Loves BoSox

Losing at home has been a rarity for the Boston Red Sox this season. Consecutive losses at Fenway Park have been even rarer.

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The Red Sox seek to avoid dropping consecutive games at Fenway for just the third time this season as they continue their weekend series against the AL East rival Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -191 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston –191 View MLB Bet Percentages).

Boston (55-40) leads the AL wild-card race and is within 1 1/2 games of division leader Tampa Bay, due mostly to its dominance at home. The Red Sox are 34-11 at Fenway, where they had won five straight games - including a three-game sweep of Minnesota this week - entering this series.

However, the Orioles (45-46) appeared comfortable at Fenway on Friday night. Brian Roberts went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and two runs scored as Baltimore won 7-3 to snap its third five-game losing streak of the season.

"He's not going to New York as an All-Star, but he's an All-Star player for us and he's an All-Star player for me,'' said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley of Roberts, who finished fourth in fan balloting for the final AL All-Star roster spot. "What he does for the club, and what he does to make the team go, speaks for itself.''

The Red Sox have only lost consecutive home games twice this season - April 23-24 to the Los Angeles Angels and June 20-21 against St. Louis. They'll send Tim Wakefield (5-6, 3.75 ERA) to the mound Saturday as they try to avoid that fate.

Wakefield has pitched better than his record would indicate. The 41-year-old knuckleballer is riding a streak of eight consecutive quality starts - tied for the second-longest such active streak in the majors behind Oakland's Justin Duchscherer (nine straight quality starts). In the eight outings since May 28, Wakefield has a 2.24 ERA and a .187 opponent batting average, but only a 2-3 record to show for it.

He gave up three runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings at New York on Sunday, leaving with the lead but not factoring in the decision as the Red Sox went on to lose 5-4 in 10 innings.

Wakefield is 14-13 with a 4.19 ERA in 45 career appearances versus Baltimore, including 32 starts. He has earned all but one of his wins this season at home, going 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA in seven outings at Fenway.

Boston may be helped by the expected return of All-Star right fielder J.D. Drew, who has missed the last two games with a back injury. Drew has been an important left-handed power source for the Red Sox with David Ortiz (wrist) on the disabled list, batting .317 (39-for-123) with 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 34 games since June 1.

Drew is 7-for-18 (.389) with three homers and eight RBIs in seven games versus the Orioles in 2008.

The Red Sox, though, may be without shortstop Julio Lugo, who left Friday's game in the ninth inning with a left quadriceps injury and will be evaluated Saturday.

"I think there's a pretty good chance he didn't just strain it,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Baltimore starter Radhames Liz (3-1, 5.94) will try to remain unbeaten on the road, where he is 2-0 despite a 5.71 ERA in four starts. Pitching at home on Sunday, the right-hander lasted only 3 2-3 innings, giving up six runs - four earned - seven hits and a career-high five walks to get charged with an 11-10 loss to Texas.

Liz's only previous start against Boston was similarly brief. He allowed two runs in three innings last Aug. 31 at Fenway, but did not factor in the decision as the Orioles rallied to win 9-8.

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