Red Sox look to regain their swagger
Boston (71-53) at Baltimore (60-63), Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
BOSTON -- The scene was fitting. David Ortiz, warming up in the on-deck circle for an at-bat in the fifth inning of what at the time was a 10-1 game, retrieved a game-used ball with the intent of giving it to a young fan in the front row.
He tossed the ball to the child, who bobbled it and watched it slip through her fingers and fall to the warning track dirt. Ortiz threw back his head before doubling over for a second, reacting to the toss gone wrong.
It seemed very similar to Boston's outing with Toronto. The Sox couldn't get anything going in the final tilt of their five-game homestand, dropping a 15-4 decision on Sunday.
The Red Sox will look to regain their swagger as they start a nine-game, 11-day road trip on Monday in Baltimore. Boston's final long trip of the season goes through Baltimore, Toronto and New York.
Captain Jason Varitek isn't too concerned about the way the homestand ended.
"It's two games," Varitek said. "One where the guy pitched phenomenal [Roy Halladay on Saturday] and another where we couldn't stop the bleeding. When we're successful, we're able to stop the bleeding."
What lies ahead is a three-city venture through the American League East, and if the Sox want to remain in contention -- with the Rays in the division and the Sox and Twins in the Wild Card race -- they'll need a bit more consistency than they showed against the Jays in this abbreviated two-game series.
"Three divisional opponents, three teams that I've heard play us pretty tough," Jason Bay said. "It's going to be a big test, especially with the road record. We've got to find ways to win games that aren't here at Fenway."
Of course, the Sox will be in familiar territory, with Jon Lester taking the mound on Monday against the Orioles. Twice since the All-Star break, Lester has gone to the hill with the team in the middle of a skid, and he's stopped the slide each time.
It wouldn't hurt to have a slump-stopping performance again on Monday.
"You have to win on the road," Bay said. "This will be a big tell for us, where we'll be in September."Pitching matchup
BOS: LHP Jon Lester (11-4, 3.25 ERA)
On Wednesday, coming off a blistering, 19-17 win the night before, Boston looked to Lester for a less strenuous outing. The young lefty didn't disappoint, picking up his 11th win in convincing fashion. He pounded the strike zone, rarely missing an opportunity to put away a batter, and scattered seven hits and three runs in 7 1/3 innings in an 8-4 Boston victory. In the process, he improved to 8-1 in his last nine decisions, dating back to June 5 against Tampa Bay. BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-8, 3.18 ERA)
Guthrie has won seven of his past eight decisions and has allowed just one earned run in eight of his past 14 starts. He has lost just twice since the beginning of June and has hurdled to the top of the AL leaderboard in quality starts (18). Baltimore has gone 10-4 in his past 14 outings. Sox stuff
Clay Buchholz made his second career relief appearance on Sunday. His first came on Sept. 6, 2007, against Baltimore. ... Dustin Pedroia homered in back-to-back games over the weekend for the second time in his career. The other time occurred on June 15, in Cincinnati, and June 16, in Philadelphia. ... Jed Lowrie fell a homer short of the cycle and reached base four times on Sunday, going 3-for-3. The three hits match his career high for the third time, the last coming on Aug. 14, vs. Texas. Tickets
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Tuesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 14-2, 2.74) at Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 8-7, 4.78), 7:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 2-8, 6.35) at Orioles (Chris Waters, 1-0, 4.32), 7:05 p.m. ET
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.