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Boston Red Sox @ Colorado Rockies: Lester vs. Chacin

Sports Network | June 22, 2010


(Sports Network) - The Colorado Rockies were dominated by the Boston Red Sox the last time these two teams met one another on the diamond. Considering how well both the 2007 world champions and Jon Lester have fared of late, a similar outcome could in be in the works when the Red Sox pay a visit to Coors Field tonight for the opener of a three-game series.

Colorado's lone World Series appearance came against Boston in the 2007 Fall Classic, where the Red Sox cruised to their second world title in a four-year span by taking all four matchups with the upstart Rockies. In the deciding Game 4 held in Denver, Lester fired 5 2/3 shutout innings to earn the win as Boston held on for a 4-3 triumph.

Lester, who gets the call for the Sox in tonight's tilt, has been incredibly tough to score upon lately as well. After losing his first two decisions of 2010 and registering a subpar 8.44 earned run average over his initial three starts of the season, the standout left-hander has amassed a stellar 8-0 record with a 2.01 ERA in 11 outings, with the Red Sox coming out on top in all but two of those tests.

The 26-year-old was sharp once again this past Wednesday, holding Arizona to two runs and four hits while striking out seven over seven innings in Boston's 6-2 ousting of the Diamondbacks. The effort marked the ninth time in Lester's unbeaten run, which began on April 23, that he's allowed two runs or fewer in a game.

Lester has never faced the Rockies during the regular season, but he sports an excellent 6-1 record with a 2.98 ERA in 11 career interleague starts.

As a team, Boston has been just as successful as its starting pitcher over the past few weeks. The Red Sox enter Coors Field having won eight of their last nine games and are an incredible 24-8 since May 17. That strong surge has propelled the club into a second-place tie in the competitive AL East and just a half-game behind the rival New York Yankees for the division's top spot.

Boston has had little trouble against members from Colorado's division as of late. After sweeping a three-game set from the Diamondbacks at Fenway Park, the Red Sox took all three bouts with defending NL West champion Los Angeles over the weekend to run its current win streak to a season-best six games. Pitching again led the way in Sunday's finale with the Dodgers, as Clay Buchholz teamed up with relievers Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon on a four- hitter in the Sox' 2-0 victory.

Buchholz (10-4) yielded three hits and walked three over the first 6 2/3 innings to join Tampa Bay's David Price and the Yankees' Phil Hughes as the AL's first 10-game winners this season. The young right-hander is now 7-1 with a 1.62 ERA over his last eight starts.

"He is just a maturing young pitcher," manager Terry Francona told the Red Sox' official site about Buchholz. "His stuff is so good and now that he has some repetition under his belt, he is able to execute pitches as opposed to thinking about 19 different things that are going on. It is fun to watch."

Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace Boston offensively, while David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis each drove in runs on the evening.

Colorado heads into this important series in fourth place in the tightly- bunched NL West standings, just four games back of front-running San Diego, and has won six of its last nine contests. The Rockies opened up their present six-game homestand with consecutive wins over Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday, but the Brewers averted a series sweep with a 6-1 decision in Sunday's finale.

Milwaukee scored five times in the top of the ninth inning to snap a 1-1 deadlock, with all of the runs charged to Colorado reliever Manny Corpas (1-4). The right-hander failed to record an out while surrendering three hits, one walk and a fielder's choice.

"He threw a couple of bad pitches [Sunday] and he paid for it," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said of Corpas.

Aaron Cook worked seven effective innings for Colorado, allowing just one run and three hits in a no-decision. The Rockies didn't do much at the plate, though, mustering only three hits for the game and getting their lone run on Brad Hawpe's solo homer in the second inning.

The Colorado bullpen is expected to get a boost for this series, however, with regular closer Huston Street set to be activated from the disabled list prior to tonight's test. The 2005 AL Rookie of the Year converted 35-of-37 save opportunities for the Rockies last season, but has yet to pitch this year due to shoulder inflammation.

Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who missed the entire Milwaukee series with a bruised left knee, is slated to return to the Rockies lineup tonight as well. Boston was without right fielder J.D. Drew for its final two clashes with the Dodgers, and the veteran is considered day-to-day with a strained right hamstring.

Charged with the task of slowing down the rolling Red Sox tonight will be Rockies rookie Jhoulys Chacin. The promising prospect is mired in a four-start losing streak, however, after going 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA over his first major league appearances (five starts) of the season.

Chacin has pitched to a 5.32 ERA over the course of his slide, although he did have a decent showing in his most recent start. The young righty gave up a pair of runs over five innings at AL Central leader Minnesota last Wednesday, but came out on the short end of a 2-1 outcome.

The 22-year-old will also be out to improve upon a 1-3 record and 6.17 ERA in five games (four starts) at hitter-friendly Coors Field this season.

The Rockies did get the better of the Red Sox when these teams squared off during the 2007 regular season, taking two of three games in a series held at Fenway Park. Boston also dropped two of three against Colorado in its only non-postseason visit to Coors Field, which took place in 2004.