Hamels Faces BoSox

Just as the Boston Red Sox appear to have finally found the solution to their road struggles, they'll now have to solve a problem they've never faced.

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Phillies ace Cole Hamels will take the mound against Boston for the first time on Monday, when the two first-place clubs begin a three-game set in Philadelphia.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Philadelphia –156 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 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston +146 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

After a stretch where they had won just one out of 10 games on the road, the Red Sox (44-28) have now won five of seven games - and two straight series - away from Fenway Park.

They've also played well in recently at Philadelphia (41-30), going 6-1 in their last seven games there while averaging more than eight runs.

Boston, though, has never faced Hamels (6-4, 3.27 ERA). The Phillies' hard-throwing left-hander has been especially good recently, with two shutouts in his last six starts and only six hits allowed in 17 innings over his last two outings.

Hamels gave up two runs and three hits - two of them homers - in eight innings Wednesday at Florida. He struck out a season-high 13, but didn't factor in the decision as the Phillies lost 6-2.

"I made a lot of the right pitches," Hamels said. "But if you make mistakes, they are going to hurt you."

The only Red Sox hitter who has faced Hamels is shortstop Julio Lugo, who is 2-for-3 with two home runs against him.

Despite a lineup that lacked Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz for the last two games of a three-game set in Cincinnati over the weekend, Boston scored a combined 15 runs in two victories, including a 9-0 win Sunday.

"Those guys make us better, no doubt," said outfielder Coco Crisp, who homered for the second straight game and had four RBIs. "Without them, we were still able to put up some runs. It shows we're a good team without our two superstars."

J.D. Drew continued his torrid hitting in Ortiz's No. 3 spot in the lineup. After going 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks Sunday, the right fielder is now 21-for-47 (.447) with seven homers and 16 RBIs in 14 games in June. He has a 1.106 slugging percentage this month.

Drew is unlikely to be well received in Philadelphia as he makes his first visit since April 2006. The Phillies originally drafted him with the second overall pick of the 1997 draft, but he refused to sign with the team and was drafted by St. Louis the following year.

While the Red Sox are second in the AL with 371 runs, Boston starter Bartolo Colon (4-1, 3.41) will have to face a Phillies lineup that ranks second in the NL with 381.

Colon has pitched well in his first five starts with the Red Sox, but those outings have come against Baltimore, Seattle and Kansas City - all of which rank among the bottom 10 in the majors in runs.

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The right-hander pitched six innings against the Orioles Wednesday, giving up five hits and one run while striking out seven.

"He's been tremendous for us," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "To get a guy you didn't have when spring training started and all of a sudden he's right in the middle of the rotation helping us win games, it's been big."

Philadelphia scored 28 runs in three games at St. Louis over the weekend, but dropped the last two contests after a 20-2 win on Friday. The Phillies' 7-6 loss on Sunday came after they made a pair of errors in the bottom of the 10th, allowing the winning run to score.

The Phillies have won eight of their last 10 at home.

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