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News » Red Sox-Astros Preview 2008-06-29

Red Sox-Astros Preview 2008-06-29

Red Sox-Astros Preview 2008-06-29
Houston's Lance Berkman is having a strong season at the plate so far - and he's been especially tough against the American League.

Berkman will be trying to lead the Astros to a series win on Sunday when they wrap up a three-game set with the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox.

Berkman ranks second in the majors with a .366 batting average, behind Atlanta's Chipper Jones (.394). Playing against the AL has certainly helped his average - in 16 interleague games, he is batting .390 (23-for-59) with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Berkman is batting .526 (10-for-19) with six RBIs in his last five games, all against AL teams. He hit a two-run double in the eighth inning Saturday, helping rally Houston (38-43) to an 11-10 victory over Boston (50-33).

The switch-hitter struck out three times against left-hander Jon Lester before getting an RBI single in the seventh against righty Craig Hansen and the double against right-hander Manny Delcarmen.

"The one major difference was that Lester was off the mound," Berkman said. "It's batting right-handed for all three to going over to the left side, where I'm more comfortable."

Berkman will get a chance to face a right-handed starter in the series finale, as Josh Beckett (7-5, 3.73 ERA) takes the mound for the Red Sox. However, he has only two hits - one of them a homer - in 14 career at-bats against Beckett.

Beckett is 2-2 with a 2.12 ERA in five career starts against the Astros and has won the last two. However, he has not faced Houston since 2005 while still with Florida.

Beckett gave up two runs in eight innings Monday but was outdueled by Dan Haren in a 2-1 loss to Arizona. The right-hander, the only 20-game winner in baseball last season, has allowed two or fewer runs in five of his last six starts.

Berkman wasn't the only offensive hero for Houston on Saturday - Mark Loretta hit a three-run homer, Carlos Lee also connected, and Ty Wigginton tied the game at 9 with a solo shot. The Astros, who have won five of eight, rallied from 4-0 and 9-6 deficits to win for the first time in five games all-time against the Red Sox.

"We made some mistakes out over the plate, and they hit every one of them, Boston manager Terry Francona said.

Dustin Pedroia continued his offensive tear for the Red Sox, going 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Pedroia is batting .492 (30-for-61) with three homers over his last 14 games.

Jacoby Ellsbury started in center in place of Coco Crisp, who began serving a five-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl in a June 5 game against Tampa Bay.

Boston will try to bounce back in the finale against Brian Moehler (4-3, 4.03), who allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 4-3 win over Texas. It was the third time in four starts he held an opponent to one or no runs.

"He's been really, really good for us," manager Cecil Cooper said. "He had been real effective. Moehler was just outstanding to hold them to one run."

Moehler is 4-2 with a 4.01 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox, but he is 0-2 in the last three, dating to 2000.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: June 29, 2008

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