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BAL@TB: Chen hurls seven shutout innings

The Red Sox are battling to stay in the American League Wild Card race and open a three-game series on Tuesday against the Orioles, one of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

The Sox will need their rotation to carry them down the stretch, and it all begins with Tuesday starter Josh Beckett. Boston is just 7-12 when the right-hander is on the mound this year, though. It's been a disappointing season for Beckett and the Red Sox, but there is still time to turn it around.

The Red Sox are 2-2 on their 10-game road trip and need a strong series in Baltimore to keep pace in the race for a playoff berth.

"It's tough. It'd be a lot better if we were winning two out of every three games," said Beckett. "It's been tough on all of us."

Beckett's last two starts have been tough, too. He allowed eight runs in five-plus innings against the Rangers on Wednesday. Before that, the right-hander was forced from an outing on July 31 in the third inning with back spasms.

For Beckett to reverse his fortunes, he'll need to beat Baltimore for the first time this in his last four tries.

Rookie left-hander Wei-Yin Chen faces the Red Sox for the third time, but first at Camden Yards. He'll go against an offense that flexed its muscle on Sunday with a 14-1 win over Cleveland.

Chen (10-7) was hit hard in his last outing, giving up a career-high seven runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Royals.

"He's human," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "He's performed at a very high level for us, and I think it's more [Kansas City] than it was him."

Chen was the winning pitcher when the O's beat Beckett and the Sox, 2-1, on June 6 at Fenway Park. His seven innings of one-run ball was by far his best outing. If he can come close to matching that, Baltimore will have a good chance of improving on a 5-2 homestand.

Red Sox: Middlebrooks avoids surgery
• Will Middlebrooks will likely miss the rest of the season with a broken right wrist, but the rookie won't need surgery to fix the fracture.

"They're not displaced," manager Bobby Valentine said. "The gaps just need to fill in. When those things just get cracked, they've got to get the putty filled back in there. It shouldn't be any problem. But then again, who knows."

Middlebrooks suffered the injury on Friday night, when he was hit by a 96-mph fastball from Esmil Rogers in the ninth inning.

"I almost felt it crunch," Middlebrooks said. "I didn't know if that was my wrist or like the velcro on my batting glove. And then once we came in, I really couldn't move it much."

The third baseman was hitting .288 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 75 games. Middlebrooks, 23, will miss out on a chance to help the Sox in their pursuit of a playoff berth.

"It's horrible," he said. "There's a month and a half left, and I'm stuck being a cheerleader. We all want to win games here, and I can't do anything to help now."

• Adrian Gonzalez has found his swing in the second half and leads the American League with 35 RBIs since the All-Star break. He's batting .392 (42-for-107) and has hit safely in 23 of 28 games since the break.

The first baseman has been even hotter in August, going 19-for-45 (.422) with eight doubles, three homers, 18 RBIs and nine runs in 12 games.

Gonzalez homered Sunday and went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and a double.

Orioles: Machado homers again
• Rookie sensation Manny Machado hit a two-run homer on Sunday against the Royals, his third long ball in four Major League games.

Machado's blast was originally ruled a double, but the umpires reversed their call to a homer after a video review clearly showed the ball had cleared the fence in right-center.

In four games since being called up Thursday, Machado is 6-for-16 (.375) with three homers, seven RBIs and five runs.

• Injured starter Jason Hammel is scheduled to throw off a mound Monday, the next step in his return from a knee injury. He is trying to return to the rotation in September. He has been on the disabled list since July 15.

Monday's session will test Hammel's ability to push of his right leg, a good test for his injured right knee.

"Just the tentativeness of me to push with the back side, because that's where the pain was," Hammel said. "Just getting through that, obviously. And [Saturday] there was no hesitance at all, so I feel good."

Hammel was 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA before the injury.

Worth noting
• Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is hitting .378 (17-for-45) with four doubles and four RBIs in 12 games in August.

• Orioles infielder Robert Andino is 6-for-15 (.400) in his career against Beckett, with one home run and four RBIs.

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