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Red Sox plan for sweep of Royals at Fenway

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox will try to wrap up a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park Sunday, and they'll do so with their ace on the mound.

Jon Lester will take the hill for Boston, but his counterpart, Yordano Ventura, has pitched well for the Royals in recent outings.

Ventura enters the contest with an even 7-7 record, but has kept his earned run average down to a cool 3.22. He's accumulated 88 strikeouts and 31 walks in 18 appearances this season (17 starts).

Ventura picked up the win for Kansas City in his latest appearance on July 13, even though he went just 1 2/3 innings. He pitched scoreless ball and allowed a single hit to Detroit. In his past three trips to the mound, he's 2-0 and has allowed five runs in 15 innings.

The 23-year-old righty has relished his opportunities on the road this season, earning a 4-1 record in seven starts with a 2.83 ERA.

Lester, although not earning a decision in either of his last two starts, has steadily been decreasing his ERA, which was at 3.52 seven starts ago. Now Lester enters the matchup with a 2.65 ERA and a 9-7 record. His 134 strikeouts places him in the top 10 in the American League.

Lester's last loss came back on June 7. Since then, he's 3-0 in six starts and hasn't allowed more than three earned runs to an opponent. In his last outing, he went seven innings against the White Sox, surrendering one run on seven hits with 12 strikeouts.

In 10 starts against Kansas City lifetime, Lester is 6-3 with an impressive 1.60 ERA. He's also holding the Royals to a .178 batting average in those 10 starts.

The Royals were the first to strike on Saturday night, as Omar Infante sent a sacrifice fly to the outfield which scored Jarrod Dyson in the third inning. But Kansas City wasn't able to maintain the advantage.

Shane Victorino, fresh off his stint on the DL, hit a shot to shortstop at Alcides Escobar, who was charged with an error that allowed Victorino to be safe at first. Jonny Gomes scored the tying run on the play.

Mike Napoli clubbed a solo homer to left in the sixth inning, providing the eventual winning run. Rubby De La Rosa had a strong outing for the Red Sox, lasting seven innings and allowing five hits and just one run. He picked up the win.

"We're not scoring enough runs. It's as simple as that," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Danny Duffy was tagged with the loss, even though he was credited with just the one earned run.

The Red Sox are doing all they can to climb out of the AL East basement, having won five of their last six games. Conversely, the Royals have lost five of their last six games and are in a battle with Cleveland for the second spot in the AL Central.