The Boston Red Sox are in search of some consistency and hope an upcoming series with the Toronto Blue Jays will help.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays will open a three-game AL East set Tuesday from Rogers Centre and Boston owns an 8-5 mark in the season series.
Boston is 3-4 on its 10-game road trip and lost three of four at Kansas City over the weekend, dropping Sunday's finale by a 4-3 score. John Lackey was saddled with the loss and he surrendered all four runs in seven innings. He was outdueled by James Shields, who allowed three runs -- two earned -- in seven innings.
"It was a grind early," Lackey said. "I wasn't feeling really great. I had a couple of 3-2 counts and didn't make my pitch."
Ryan Lavarnway had two hits and two RBI for the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-5 in defeat, ending a 21-game hitting streak against the Royals. Stephen Drew extended his season-high hit streak to 12 games with two hits.
Taking the mound for the Red Sox up north will be Ryan Dempster. The veteran right-hander is 2-0 in his last eight starts and the Red Sox are 7-1 in that span, winning his past five appearances. Dempster has not recorded a decision in back-to-back outings and has allowed 12 runs in that time. In a 7-5 win at Houston last Wednesday, Dempster struck out seven, did not walk a batter and yielded five runs in six frames.
Dempster is 6-8 with a 4.67 ERA in 23 starts this season and 1-1 with a 5.10 ERA in six career games, five of which have been starts, against Toronto.
Toronto has lost two in a row and four of five games, and will resume its seven-game homestand Tuesday night.
The Jays lost three of four to the visiting Oakland Athletics and suffered a 5-1 loss in Monday's series finale. Oakland rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth and Casey Janssen permitted all four of those runs to take the loss.
"It just kind of snowballed on me," Janssen said about the inning.
J.A. Happ's start was spoiled by the bullpen and he tossed seven innings of one-run ball in the no-decision.
Jose Bautista had the only RBI and Brett Lawrie led the Blue Jays with a pair of hits in defeat. Lawrie has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games.
Todd Redmond will handle pitching duties for Toronto Tuesday and he is 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA in eight games (5 starts). He hasn't posted a decision in four straight outings and gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings of a 7-5 loss at the LA Angels on Aug. 2.
Redmond will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career.