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Postponed MAS2/NESN 
Baltimore (93-61, 43-31 Road)
Boston (67-88, 31-44 Home)

Orioles-Red Sox Preview

According to STATS
According to STATS

Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

  1. The Orioles sit atop the AL East on the morning of July 4th for the first time since 1997, which also was the last year in which they finished first in the division.
  2. The Red Sox are 90-67 (.573) when playing on Independence Day, which is third best among active franchises (Nationals - .647, Diamondbacks - .625). The Orioles are 72-90-1 (.445) on the 4th of July, which ranks sixth worst.
  3. Not only have the Red Sox had the biggest drop in the majors in win percentage from a year ago, but they also have the biggest decrease in runs per game, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
  4. As a shortstop, Xander Bogaerts was hitting .296 with an .816 OPS; since sliding over to third base to make room for Stephen Drew, he is hitting .131 (13/99) with a .422 OPS.
  5. Nelson Cruz has a lifetime batting average of .458 (11/24) versus Jon Lester, third among active players (Miguel Cabrera - .522, Torii Hunter - .500; minimum 15 PA).
  6. David Ortiz has 40 career home runs against the Orioles, tying him with Al Kaline for fifth most since 1954, and trailing only Harmon Killebrew (68), Alex Rodriguez (61), Mickey Mantle (44) and Frank Thomas (42).
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 7/4/2014 thru 7/5/2014

By JON PALMIERI

STATS Editor

(AP) -- Any team needs to get production from some unlikely sources to be successful. Steve Pearce is doing more than his share and then some for the Baltimore Orioles.

Now a mainstay in the lineup after fighting for his baseball life just a couple months ago, Pearce and the visiting Orioles look to match a season high with their fifth straight win Friday against the Boston Red Sox.

Pearce made the Orioles out of spring training before he was designated for assignment April 22 after getting only nine at-bats. He was claimed off waivers by Toronto but he elected to become a free agent and was promptly re-signed by Baltimore on April 29.

That move ranks among the best by any team this season.

With Chris Davis struggling, Pearce began to get more playing time - both at first base and in the outfield - and has hit his way into a regular role over the past month.

Pearce notched his first career four-hit game with two of the Orioles' six doubles in Thursday's 5-2 win over Texas and added two RBIs and two stolen bases. He's 31 for 81 (.383) in his last 22 games with six homers, 17 RBIs and nine doubles.

"We're relying on some people, and people are stepping up," Pearce said. "We're pitching, we're hitting. We're having timely hitting. We're finding ways to get it done."

Nick Hundley also contributed a pair of doubles for Baltimore (46-39), which swept the four-game series to move a season-best seven games over .500 and take over sole possession of first place in the AL East, one percentage point ahead of Toronto.

Pearce's stellar play has overshadowed teammate Adam Jones, who is batting .355 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 31 games since the start of June.

Jones is 15 for 38 (.395) against Boston this season.

The Red Sox (38-47) enter this series after getting swept in three straight at home by the last-place Chicago Cubs, including a 16-9 loss Wednesday. Boston had a season high-tying 16 hits after totaling one run in the previous two games.

In a disappointing season for his team, Jon Lester (9-7, 2.92 ERA) has been a bright spot and he'll try to continue his outstanding run Friday.

Since getting hit hard in a loss at Detroit on June 7, the left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in four starts. He outdueled Masahiro Tanaka in a 2-1 victory at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, allowing one unearned run and five hits in eight innings.

The Boston ace has been masterful during a three-start win streak at Fenway Park, yielding two earned runs and 16 hits over 21 innings with three walks and 22 strikeouts.

After going 14-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his first 17 starts against Baltimore, Lester has gone 1-4 with a 4.09 ERA in his past nine. He pitched well enough to win his most recent meeting, giving up two runs over seven innings with eight strikeouts in a 2-1 loss March 31.

Nelson Cruz is 11 for 24 (.458) with three homers against Lester, while Jones is 18 for 56 (.321) with five home runs and three doubles.

Miguel Gonzalez (4-5, 4.56) will try to get back on track for the Orioles against one of his favorite opponents.

In three starts since returning from the disabled list, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA. He's allowed 25 hits - five homers - and nine walks over 14 2-3 innings during that span and opposing hitters are batting .385 against him.

Gonzalez, though, has won all three of his starts versus Boston, posting a 3.38 ERA.

Updated July 4, 2014

126 © 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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