Red Sox-Yankees Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Boston Red Sox own a losing record at the midpoint of a season for the first time in 17 years, due in large part to their struggles on the road.
The New York Yankees' troubles aren't nearly as worrisome yet.
The Red Sox attempt to win their first road series this month Sunday night against the Yankees in the finale of this three-game series.
Boston (37-44) is fourth in the AL East and under .500 at the halfway mark for the first time since it had the same record in 1997. It's 17-25 on the road and has dropped 13 of 18 as the visitor in June, averaging 2.7 runs.
Mike Napoli has been doing his part offensively, going 7 for 17 with three solo home runs in the past seven road games. His ninth-inning shot off Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka with two outs and two strikes Saturday was long enough to reach the first row in the short porch in right field, putting the Red Sox up for good in a 2-1 victory.
A day earlier, Boston fell 6-0 while watching the Yankees deposit all three of their homers in the right-field bleachers.
"Power hitters are going to have the ability to hit to all fields. We all know that right field here is not very forgiving," manager John Farrell said.
The right-handed hitting Napoli owns a .337 average with 22 RBIs in 24 games at Yankee Stadium, while five of his eight homers have gone to the opposite field. He has a pair of solo shots in six games there this year, though he's 4 for 20.
Jon Lester turned in a superb start Saturday, something John Lackey (8-5, 3.45) wasn't able to do Monday. He surrendered a season-high seven runs in just 3 2-3 innings - his shortest outing since September 2011 - in a 12-3 loss at Seattle.
Lackey, who had gone 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA over his six previous outings, has allowed 13 runs and 18 hits - four homers - in 11 1-3 innings while splitting his last two games in the Bronx. The most recent was a 7-4 loss April 12.
The right-hander, though, was dominant in his latest matchup with the Yankees on April 23, striking out a season-high 11 while allowing one run in eight innings of a 5-1 victory.
New York failed to win a third straight Saturday and has dropped five of seven. It managed five singles in undermining Tanaka's seven-hitter.
Jacoby Ellsbury has gone 8 for 16 over the past four games, and his three hits in this series give him a .361 average in nine meetings with Boston.
Derek Jeter also has three hits in the past two contests and is 10 for 28 (.357) with five RBIs against the Red Sox this year.
The Yankees had scored 17 runs in the previous three games, and Chase Whitley (3-1, 4.07) would love to see that kind of support after giving up season highs of eight runs and 11 hits in 3 1-3 innings of an 8-3 defeat at Toronto on Monday.
The right-hander walked three after totaling four walks in his first seven major league starts.
"I couldn't command the ball at all, like I have been in the past," said Whitley, whose ERA ballooned from 2.56.
Updated June 29, 2014