The Spark?

Despite an inconsistent season, the Boston Red Sox believe Josh Beckett can be the spark to help turn around an already dismal road trip.

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The Red Sox turn to their ace to help avoid their third consecutive loss as they open a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -140 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -140 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Boston (32-24) lost 1-0 at Seattle on Wednesday to drop two of three to the last-place Mariners, and fall to 1-5 on a 10-game road trip after a 7-0 homestand. The Red Sox began this trip with a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East, but currently sit second in the division behind surprising Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox, 11-19 away from home, head to Baltimore where they were swept by the Orioles (26-26) in a brief two-game set May 13-14.

"Everyone makes a big deal about our road record and everything," second baseman Dustin Pedroia told the Red Sox's official Web site. "It doesn't matter where we win. As long as we win games, we'll be all right."

The Red Sox hope Beckett (5-4, 4.43 ERA) is fine when he takes the ball looking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss at Oakland on Saturday.

Beckett, a 20-game winner in 2007, allowed two runs and seven hits while striking out nine in seven innings against the Athletics. Though he allowed five runs in 5 2-3 innings to take the loss in a 5-4 defeat at Baltimore on May 13, the right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA versus the Orioles and 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA at Camden Yards.

"When Beckett takes the mound, we still feel like we're going to win," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I feel that way. I'm hoping Beckett feels that way."

Beckett could benefit from some run support, something the Red Sox have had trouble offering their pitchers lately. Despite an AL-leading .282 batting average, Boston is hitting only .169 and has been outscored 25-14 on its road trip.

Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell had Boston's two hits Wednesday. Ramirez is 6-for-13 with a homer and six RBIs in his last five contests and remains one home run away from 500. He's hit 15 in 90 career games at Camden Yards, but none since 2006.

The Orioles lost 4-2 to New York on Wednesday, but still took two of three from the Yankees after losing five in row coming into that set.

"Every game's been a war. You'd better bring your 'A' Game," Orioles manager Dave Trembley told the team's official Web site.

Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora each had three hits for Baltimore, which is 16-8 at home, where it has won six of its last eight contests.

Mora is 6-for-10 with two homers and four RBIs in his last two games, while Roberts is 5-for-10 in the same span and 7-for-20 with three doubles and a homer against Beckett.

Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera (5-1, 3.70) is expected to take the ball Friday looking for his fourth straight winning decision. He allowed four runs with nine hits in 5 2-3 innings on Sunday, but didn't factor in a 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay.

Though he's 2-9 with a 7.35 ERA versus Boston, the right-hander snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Red Sox by allowing three runs in seven innings of a 6-3 win over them on May 14.

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