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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, May 26th (All times eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (28-18) at Boston Red Sox (22-23), 7:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - David Price (6-3, 2.88) Boston - Josh Beckett (4-4, 4.38)

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays attempt to take control of their three- game weekend set with the Boston Red Sox this evening at Fenway Park.

After Kevin Youkilis notched an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning for the Red Sox, the Rays answered in the third with a Matt Joyce grand slam. Elliot Johnson and Carlos Pena then added home runs in the fourth inning, helping Tampa cruise to a 7-4 victory.

Alex Cobb (2-0) won his second consecutive start since being called up from Triple-A Durham to replace the injured Jeff Niemann, and allowed one earned run in five innings of work. Fernando Rodney closed the door in the ninth inning for his 15th save in 15 chances.

Jon Lester (3-4) continued to struggle for the Sox, going four innings while allowing seven earned runs, with his ERA ballooning to 4.72 in the process.

Boston's frustrations boiled over in the ninth inning, when reliever Franklin Morales threw behind Luke Scott with the first pitch of the at-bat and hit him in the hip on a subsequent 3-1 count, which resulted in the benches being cleared. Though there was pushing and shoving along the first base side, order was eventually restored.

"That's truly somebody flexing their muscles on the other side and they need to put them in their back pocket and understand they can hurt their own team for something like that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the incident. "That was ridiculous. It was absurd, idiotic. I'll use all those words."

Boston will try to stop the bleeding on Saturday with Josh Beckett. Though the start of the season was largely a struggle for the right-hander, his last two starts have shown that he may be back to his old dominating form.

After an embarrassing outing against Cleveland on May 10 where he allowed seven earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings, Beckett bounced back in a big way in his next start, allowing just four hits and no earned runs in seven innings while striking out a season-high nine in a 5-0 win over Seattle on May 15.

Beckett continued to roll against the Phillies on Sunday, pitching into the eighth inning while allowing just one earned run, picking up his fourth win of the season in the process.

"His stuff was really moving today," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine of Beckett's May 20 performance. "He was aggressive in the strike zone and he looked like he wanted it."

Beckett has owned the Rays over the course of his career to the tune of a 10-4 record and a 2.84 ERA.

Answering the call for Tampa Bay will be their star left-hander David Price, who is in the midst of another great season with six wins over his first nine starts and 52 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings.

Price was impressive yet again on Sunday against Atlanta, striking out seven in seven innings of work while allowing just one earned run. However, he absorbed the loss in that one, as he was out-matched by Tim Hudson in a 2-0 defeat.

Though Fenway Park has been a difficult place to pitch for its opponents over the years, Price has not felt the ill-effects in his career, pitching to a 3-1 record in five career starts in Boston with an ERA of 2.51.

05/26 10:26:54 ET