The Boston Red Sox are still owners of the AL's best record, but they have some company thanks to a rough stretch - particularly from the rotation.
Dustin Pedroia will try to help get the Red Sox turned around by continuing his superb production at Fenway Park in the finale of a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins.
Boston (21-13) has dropped five of six thanks largely to the rotation's 7.98 ERA. The starters had a 3.00 ERA during a 7-1 run prior to this slump.
Despite the recent struggles, the Red Sox still have the best record in the AL, but they're now sharing that status with Baltimore and Texas.
Another poor start doomed Boston on Wednesday in a 15-8 loss, with rookie Allen Webster surrendering eight of the 11 runs that Minnesota (15-15) scored in the first two innings.
"A tough night from the mound. A number of pitches found their way to the middle of the plate," said manager John Farrell, whose Red Sox allowed 11 runs while splitting the previous two games with the Twins.
While Farrell hopes the pitchers can get untracked, Pedroia looks to continue his torrid hitting at home. The second baseman had his second three-hit game of the series Wednesday and is hitting .469 in his last eight at Fenway. He's batting .353 at home compared to .266 on the road.
The venue hasn't made a difference for Pedroia when facing the Twins. The three-time All-Star and 2008 AL MVP is a career .352 hitter against them, including five multihit efforts in 10 meetings since the start of last season.
The Red Sox are scheduled to turn to John Lackey (1-2, 3.52 ERA), who gave up a homer on his first pitch Saturday and allowed two more runs while issuing three walks in five innings of a 5-1 road loss to the Rangers.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his last four starts against the Twins but hasn't faced them since 2010.
Minnesota is looking to build on its best offensive display of the season, getting 19 hits with six doubles and two homers. The 15 runs were its most at Fenway since getting 17 in a win May 25, 1965.
Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe and Pedro Florimon each had three RBIs while totaling seven hits - four for extra bases.
Morneau has a career .345 average against Boston - .455 with 10 RBIs over the past eight matchups. However, he's 8 for 33 with one homer versus Lackey.
Kevin Correia (3-2, 2.83) is expected to get the ball hoping to rebound from his worst start of the year.
The veteran right-hander allowed a season-high four runs and two homers in five innings of a 7-3 loss at Cleveland on Saturday. It was the first time this year he failed to complete at least seven innings, and it snapped a three-start winning streak during which he had a 1.64 ERA.
"I just didn't have command of my pitches like I did in my last couple starts," Correia told the team's official website. "I fell behind guys, and they took advantage."
His only meeting with the Red Sox was a scoreless ninth inning of relief with San Francisco at Fenway on June 16, 2007.
Shane Victorino is 6 for 14 against Correia and has five hits in this series, including two homers.
The Associated Press News Service
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