Power Outage

Last weekend, the Boston Red Sox had one of their best offensive series in over a decade. Since then, Boston's offense has struggled and the team hasn't won.

The Red Sox (80-55) look to snap a four-game losing streak Saturday night when they continue a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Boston lost Friday's opener against the Orioles 9-8, dropping four straight for the second time this season. Baltimore (59-74) scored four runs in the fourth inning off loser Julian Tavarez, who was scheduled to pitch Saturday, but was moved up and lasted only 3 1-3 innings because of Tim Wakefield's sore back.

The Red Sox, who outscored the Chicago White Sox 46-7 during a four-game sweep last weekend, scored just six runs in a three-game sweep by the New York Yankees earlier this week. They had 15 hits on Friday, but grounded into four double plays and left 10 runners on base. The Red Sox remained five games ahead of the Yankees, who lost 9-1 to Tampa Bay on Friday, in the AL East standings.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Boston -205 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 11 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -205 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Boston's struggles haven't been helped by the absence of left fielder Manny Ramirez, who was sidelined for a third straight game because a strained muscle in his left side. Boston also lost right fielder J.D. Drew in the third inning Friday after he fouled a ball off the top of his right foot in the second. He was replaced by Bobby Kielty, who had been out with back spasms.

Ramirez underwent an MRI on Friday, but Boston manager Terry Francona said the results hadn't been received.

"These types of things can be a week, they can be two weeks. You don't know" how long Ramirez will be out, he said.

Nick Markakis had three hits Friday for the Orioles, including a three-run homer in the sixth, and five teammates also had multi-hit games to help Baltimore snap a nine-game losing streak.

"This game is really going to relax everybody," said shortstop Miguel Tejada, who called it "the toughest losing streak" he's been involved in.

Boston rallied to score three runs in the seventh and two in the ninth, but with runners on first and second and one out, Jason Varitek grounded into a double play to end the game.

"We dug ourselves a pretty big hole," Francona said. "Everybody that was out there gave probably more than they had."

The Red Sox will try to avoid losing five straight for the first time since a six-game losing streak during August of last season, when they call up Jon Lester (2-0, 5.67 ERA) from the minors to make the start Saturday.

Lester, who underwent chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma during the offseason, was called up initially in late July. He made six starts and was sent back down after he gave up five runs over 5 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay on Aug. 21 in an 8-6 win. The left-hander, who was originally going to pitch Sunday's finale against Baltimore, walked four and earned the victory.

Lester's only start against the Orioles came on Aug. 13, 2006. He allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings to post an 11-9 win.

Baltimore will counter with Garrett Olson (1-2, 7.33), who takes the place of injured ace Erik Bedard. The 23-year-old rookie left-hander, who was recalled from the minors earlier this week, made three starts in August, going 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA during that stretch. One of those losses was on Aug. 11 against the Red Sox, when he allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss.

This is the third time Olson - the 48th overall pick in the 2005 draft - has been called up. He also made two starts in July and was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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