(Sports Network) - Josh Beckett will try to build off one his best starts of the season and keep Boston in the playoff hunt, as the Red Sox resume a crucial four-game set with the New York Yankees tonight in the Bronx.
On Tuesday, Beckett turned in a dominant effort in a 3-1 win over Cleveland, allowing one earned run and just three hits over a season-high eight innings. He struck out eight and walked none. It was the second win in three starts since returning from a lower back injury that kept Beckett sidelined for over two months.
The veteran right-hander, however, has had some issues with the Yankees in his career, boasting a 9-6 record and a 5.95 ERA in 20 starts. He is 0-2 with a 9.93 ERA in his last four starts against them, allowing five runs in just 4 2/3 innings of work at Yankee Stadium on May 18th. Boston went on to win that game, 7-6, but Beckett was placed on the DL following the outing.
Countering for New York will be A.J. Burnett, who is 0-3 with a 9.40 ERA in six starts versus the Red Sox since joining the Yankees last season. In his most recent appearance against Boston, the right-hander was tagged for nine runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 9-3 loss on May 9th.
Burnett is also trying to bounce back from a disastrous start on Monday, when he gave up eight earned runs and eight hits in just 4 2/3 innings of an 8-6 loss to Toronto. He fell to 4-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 10 home starts.
On Saturday, the Yankees got a spark from Ramiro Pena, who filled in for the injured Alex Rodriguez, and knocked in a pair of runs to lift New York to a 5-2 victory over rival Boston in the second of a four-game set from Yankee Stadium.
Pena took over at third base for Rodriguez, who was forced from the lineup after being struck in the left shin by a batting-practice line drive from Lance Berkman. X-rays taken following the incident were negative, but there is no timetable for his return.
"I have no idea, I didn't see anything. I just got hit," Rodriguez admitted. "It was the left ankle, inside part. Never been hit like that, plenty of times there were close calls. I never saw it. I got hit and started jumping around in pain. I went down for the count, and they all got a good laugh out of it."
Curtis Granderson collected two hits, scored twice and drove in a run for the Yankees, who had dropped four of five, including the series-opener on Friday, coming in.
CC Sabathia (14-5) turned in eight strong innings for the win, yielding six hits and a pair of runs with four strikeouts and one walk.
Mariano Rivera picked up the final three outs for his 23rd save for New York, which moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East after the Rays were pounded in Toronto.
Victor Martinez homered and Adrian Beltre doubled and scored a run for the Red Sox, whose two-game win streak was halted.
John Lackey (10-7) was charged in the loss with eight hits and five runs over six full frames, fanning seven and issuing three walks.
New York has won six of its 10 meetings with the Red Sox this season.