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Red Sox Start Final Two Weeks Of 2010 Season With Three-Game Series Against Orioles

(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox head into the season's penultimate week with fleeting playoffs still alive as they begin a three-game series with the visiting Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox sit third in the American League's East Division, seven games behind the front-running New York Yankees and 6 1/2 in back of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays lead the league wild card race and begin a series with the Yankees tonight in New York.

The Red Sox salvaged the finale of a weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, when Jon Lesterthrew seven shutout innings and was backed by home runs from J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez in a 6-0 win.

Lester (18-8) gave up four hits, walked four and struck out four for the Red Sox, who had dropped the first two games of the series. Lester won his fifth consecutive outing with the effort.

Japanese export Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound for the Red Sox seeking his second win over Baltimore this month.

The Tokyo native, who turned 30 last week, is 4-2 against the Orioles in eight career starts, including a 6-4 win on Sept. 2 in which he allowed six hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

He's started twice since and is 0-1 with a no-decision against Tampa Bay and Seattle while giving up 16 hits and 13 runs in 10 2/3 innings.

Matsuzaka, who won 18 games in 2008 before injuries held him to just four wins in 12 starts last season, is 4-3 in nine starts at Fenway this season.

For Baltimore, lefty Brian Matusz aims for a fifth consecutive decision and a ninth win of the season.

He defeated Texas, the Chicago White Sox, Boston and the Yankees in a four- start stretch between Aug. 19-Sept. 6, allowing 19 hits and just six runs across 27 innings.

The Aug. 31 win in Baltimore lifted his career mark against the Red Sox to 2-0 in four starts with a 2.55 earned run average.

Matusz, who won five times in eight starts in his big-league debut last season, is 5-5 in 14 starts away from home this season.

On Sunday in Baltimore, Luke Scott homered off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, then doubled to start the 11th and scored the winning run on a single by Ty Wigginton as the Orioles salvaged the finale of a three-game series against the Yankees with a 4-3 win at Camden Yards.

Rivera came on in the ninth and tried to earn the save for Andy Pettitte in the New York lefty's return from a two-month stint on the disabled list, but Scott hit the ace reliever's second pitch over the high scoreboard in right field to tie the game at 3-3.

The Orioles worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 11th when New York's Lance Berkman bounced into a double play, and Scott led off the home half with a bloop double to left off David Robertson (4-5). Wigginton followed with a drive to right-center field to score Scott with the winning run.

After taking 16 of the 18 meetings with the Orioles last year, the Red Sox own just an 8-7 advantage in the 2010 series. That includes wins in four of the six played at Fenway Park.