Orioles-Red Sox Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles have cooled off considerably following their impressive start. Now they have the extremely difficult task of facing the Boston Red Sox's Jon Lester, who will be trying to maintain his perfect career record against the Orioles on Tuesday night.
Lester will take the mound at Fenway Park looking to deal Baltimore its 11th loss in 14 games.
Despite their slide, which includes dropping two of three at home to Boston from May 21-23, the Orioles (30-24) are two games ahead of the Red Sox (28-26) and one game behind Tampa Bay for the AL East lead.
The Rays went ahead Sunday by dealing Baltimore its seventh loss in eight games, 8-4.
"You play 162 of these things, and this is just six, seven games out of 162," third baseman Mark Reynolds told the team's official website. "It's not really that big of a deal when you think about it. We're going to get out of here, go to Boston for a day off. Go and regroup, and hopefully play some good baseball up there."
The lineup in particular needs to regroup. The Orioles have scored 20 runs the last eight games while hitting .175 with runners in scoring position.
One player who appears to be turning things around is catcher Matt Wieters, who went 6 for 12 over the weekend and homered for the first time since May 13 on Sunday. He entered the weekend in a 3-for-40 slump with 12 strikeouts.
Another defeat Tuesday could be tough for the Orioles to avoid. Lester (3-4, 4.79 ERA) is 14-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 19 career starts against Baltimore.
The Red Sox, however, have lost in his two starts versus the Orioles, the most recent a 6-4, 13-inning defeat May 4 in which Lester allowed three runs in six innings.
He also hasn't been sharp recently, going 1-1 with an 8.10 ERA in his last three starts after giving up four runs and a season-high 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-4 win over Detroit on Wednesday.
Boston has won 16 of 23, though it will be trying to bounce back from a 5-1 loss to Toronto on Sunday as it failed to finish a sweep. Daniel Bard gave up five runs and walked six in 1 2-3 innings, and the Red Sox managed six hits after scoring seven runs in each of the previous two games.
David Ortiz has gone 10 for his last 26 with three homers and three doubles for Boston, which has scored six or more runs in five of the last seven games.
Ortiz is 6 for 12 with a home run against Jason Hammel (6-2, 3.06), who gave up four homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday. He's given up four or more runs in three of his last four starts.
However, the right-hander pitched well against the Red Sox on May 5, allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings. The win was his first in four starts versus Boston.
Updated June 4, 2012