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Red Sox-Reds Preview


Red Sox-Reds Preview
Behind J.D. Drew's remarkable start to this month, the Boston Red Sox are hardly missing injured slugger David Ortiz.

Drew and the surging Red Sox look to carry some momentum from their success at home to the road Friday when they open a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, who have been tough on visitors lately.

Boston (42-27) wrapped up its nine-game homestand with seven wins, capped by Thursday's 9-2 victory over Baltimore. The Red Sox, owners of the best record in the AL, have won 17 of their last 19 at Fenway Park, but have dropped 10 of their last 14 on the road.

The Reds (32-36), meanwhile, are in last place in the NL Central, but have won 13 of their last 16 at Great American Ball Park.

In the only other interleague meeting between these two teams in 2005, the Red Sox swept a three-game series at Fenway, outscoring the Reds 23-4. This is Boston's first trip to Cincinnati since Game 5 of the 1975 World Series, which the Reds won in seven games.

Drew went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a double on Thursday, and has been outstanding since Ortiz went on the disabled list with a wrist injury on June 1. In the 11 games Ortiz has missed, Drew is 18-for-36 with six homers and 15 RBIs, raising his batting average from .282 to .324.

"He's almost like David up there right now," Boston first baseman and Cincinnati native Kevin Youkilis said.

Drew is hitting .342 (13-for-38) with two home runs, five RBIs and 12 runs in 12 career games at Great American Ball Park.

Mike Lowell hit his second grand slam of the season Thursday. Lowell is batting .429 (15-for-35) with two home runs, eight doubles and four RBIs in nine career games at Great American Ball Park, and 5-for-8 lifetime against Friday's scheduled starter Aaron Harang (2-9, 4.31 ERA).

Cincinnati is coming off a 6-2 win over St. Louis on Thursday to win for just fourth time in 11 games.

Adam Dunn struck out three times Thursday, and is just 2-for-28 (.071) with a solo homer and 16 strikeouts in his last nine games.

Harang has also been struggling lately, as he looks to avoid losing five straight starts for the first time in his career.

Harang, who also lost four straight starts from June 4-20, 2005, has been pounded for 22 runs and 40 hits in 20 2-3 innings over his last four starts.

The Reds' staff ace hasn't won since defeating Florida on May 12, but those same Marlins tagged Harang for season highs of eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-2 loss on Sunday. It was the most runs Harang had given up since allowing a career-high nine in a loss to the Chicago Cubs on April 3, 2006.

"I don't have a feel for anything right now," said Harang, who lost six games all of last season. "Leaving pitches over the plate, it's just not normal for me. I've got to work on some stuff and figure out what it is and go from there."

The right-hander will make his first start against the Red Sox since 2005, and is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts versus them.

Boston counters with rookie Justin Masterson (3-0, 2.59), who looks to continue the stellar start to his career.

Masterson has won his last three starts, and has allowed just one run in three of his four starts. The right-hander has 18 strikeouts in 24 1-3 innings, and opponents are batting a mere .169 off him.

On Sunday, Masterson yielded one run and three hits in six innings of a 2-1 in over Seattle.

"This isn't a fluke," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He's been prepared very well how to pitch, how to act and how to compete. It's exciting."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 13, 2008

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