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Yankees At Red Sox: First Place At Stake

-- See Pinstripe Alley for complete discussion and analysis

(Sports Network) - First place in the American League East will be up for grabs this evening when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees start a key three-game series at Fenway Park.

New York has won seven in a row to pull into a tie atop the division with the Red Sox, who have had the Yankees' number this season, winning eight of the nine matchups against their bitter rivals.

"That's what makes baseball fun. It's a great division we're in," Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "It's a lot of good competition."

Dating back to last season Boston has won 13 of 16 against New York.

The Yankees, though, come into tonight's tilt red-hot after a four-game sweep over the Chicago White Sox, in which New York outscored the Pale Hose, 34-11.

Ivan Nova (10-4) carried the Yanks to a 7-2 win in Thursday's finale, as he gave up one run on six hits to help New York win for the 10th time in its last 12 games overall.

He struck out a career-high 10 batters to go along with zero walks. In fact the Yankees became the first team since 1968 and just the third team since 1900 to sweep a four-game set without issuing a walk the entire series. Boston did it on the two other occasions: Against the White Sox in 1968 (August 5-8), and versus Washington in 1905 (June 29-July 3).

"That might be as good as we've seen him all year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He was excellent tonight. I thought his slider made a huge difference for him, the strikeouts that he had, the outs that he got. I thought the command on his fastball was really good."

Hoping to keep New York rolling tonight will be righty Bartolo Colon, who has won his last two starts. Colon beat Baltimore on Saturday, holding the O's to two runs and five hits in five innings. He is 8-6 on the year with a 3.30 ERA.

"I think on a day where he didn't have his 'A' stuff, he limited the damage and got us a win that we needed," Yankee manager Joe Girardi said, "so I'd say that's a good job."

Colon is 0-2 against the Red Sox this season and a mere 8-11 lifetime against them with 4.09 ERA in 24 games, 23 of which have been starts.

Getting the call for the Red Sox tonight will be left-hander Jon Lester, who is 11-4 on the year with a 3.17 earned run average. Lester was terrific in beating the White Sox on Saturday, as he held them to two runs and four hits and struck out eight over eight innings.

"I was just able to locate to both sides of the plate," said Lester. "Like I said, Salty did a good job with mixing offspeed -- both behind and ahead in the count. I was able, for the most part, to try to keep them off balance and try to get bad contact. That's the biggest thing."

Lester is 2-0 against the Yankees this year and 8-1 in his career with a 3.56 ERA in 14 starts.

The Red Sox fell to Cleveland on Thursday, 7-3. They had been alone in first place since July 7.

Current Series

3 game series vs Red Sox @ Fenway Park

New York Yankees
@ Boston Red Sox

Friday, Aug 5, 2011, 7:10 PM EDT
Fenway Park

Bartolo Colon vs Jon Lester

Clear. Winds blowing in from left field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around .


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