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Red Sox Conclude Quick Two-Game Series With Rays Tonight

(Sports Network) - While the Red Sox came out limping after their most recent series, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz made sure a rash of injuries didn't slow down Boston's momentum.

The duo look to lead the Red Sox to a fourth straight victory this evening when they wrap a quick two-game set with the floundering Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left foot), catcher Victor Martinez (thumb) and starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (left knee) were all hurt in Boston's weekend series with the Giants, though the Red Sox were still able to take two of three in the set.

Both Pedroia and Martinez landed on the disabled list, putting a threat to Boston's recent run of success. However, the Red Sox took advantage of a slumping Rays club on Tuesday as Beltre matched a season high with four hits and Ortiz connected on a three-run homer in an 8-5 victory.

Boston's 10th victory in its last 13 games moved the club to within a game of first-place New York in the American League East.

Bill Hall added a two-run homer and John Lackey hurled seven innings of one- run ball in his fifth straight winning decision.

"His fastball, away to the right, he commanded really good," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "His changeup was good. He's never predictable. He never fell into a pattern back and forth and changed speeds."

That wasn't the case for Tampa Bay's James Shields, who dropped his seventh start in a row after yielding five runs in five-plus innings. The Rays lost for the 12th time in their last 17 games and are just 12-20 since their 32-12 start.

"Confidence is among the most fragile things humans have," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When you have it you're pretty good, when you don't have it you're not as good. Getting prepared to play the game has been wonderful. We just have not hit the baseball with any kind of authority, with any kind of consistency."

Willy Aybar hit a pinch-hit home run late and Carl Crawford returned to the starting lineup for the first time in four games due to a shoulder injury and had four hits.

B.J. Upton had a pinch-hit triple off the bench for the Rays. Maddon said Upton not starting was not a discipline move stemming from his verbal altercation in the dugout during Sunday's loss to Arizona with teammate Evan Longoria, who did start and went 1-for-5 with an RBI.

Hoping to get the Rays on track, Matt Garza will try to build off one of his better starts of the season that came directly after one of his worst.

Garza lasted just 1 1/3 innings versus the Marlins on June 18, allowing seven runs in the setback. He rebounded with eight innings of three-run ball versus the Padres on Thursday, however, working around six hits in a 5-3 victory. The right-hander improved to 3-1 in his last four starts despite a 7.84 earned run average and lasted longer than 6 1/3 innings for the first time in six starts.

Garza is 8-5 with a 4.10 ERA this year and has split a pair of meetings versus the Red Sox this year. He hurled eight shutout innings of four-hit ball at Fenway Park in an April 18 victory, but the 26-year-old was then drilled for six runs on five hits and five walks over five innings of a home setback on May 26.

In his career, Garza is 6-3 with a 3.36 ERA against Boston and he will try to avoid the bats of Beltre, who is 4-for-6 with a double, two homers and four RBI versus Garza this year.

Pitching for the first time since June 7 due to a strained right forearm, Daisuke Matsuzaka survived a rough 37-pitch first inning to notch a no- decision versus the Rockies on Thursday.

Matsuzaka ended up allowing just two runs on five hits and four walks over five frames, exiting with a 6-2 lead in a game that ended 13-11 in Boston's favor. It marked the fifth straight start that the right-hander didn't allow more than three runs.

Matsuzaka, who has won five of his last six decisions, is 5-2 with a 4.50 earned run average this season and 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA in nine career starts versus the Rays, who the 29-year-old has yet to face this season.

These two clubs traded road sweeps earlier this season as the Rays took four straight in Boston from April 17-19 before the Red Sox returned the favor at Tampa on May 24-26.