MLB

Rays-Red Sox preview

BOSTON -- Rick Porcello's performance has flown under the radar this season.

He didn't make the American League All-Star team despite a 10-2 record and 3.82, but he's been one of the bright spots for a shaky Boston Red Sox pitching staff.

Porcello will try to keep that trend going in Saturday afternoon's game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park, the second of a three-game series that takes both teams into the All-Star break.

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After signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal before even throwing a pitch and struggling through a 9-15 campaign last year, nobody knew what Porcello would give the Red Sox going forward.

Thus far, Boston has received 10 victories from a pitcher who won 15 games with the Detroit Tigers in 2014.

Porcello is 4-0 with five no-decisions in his last nine starts. He gave up 12 hits and four runs (three earned) in six innings against the Los Angeles Angels last Sunday, but cruised behind his team's 21-hit attack, adding another notch to his Fenway belt.

"He did bend, he didn't break," Red Sox manager John Farrell said that day, noting, "Pors has been extremely comfortable at home here."

He is 7-0 in eight starts at Fenway Park, making him one of three pitchers in the major leagues without a loss in the first eight home starts of the 2016 season.

Porcello is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA against Tampa Bay this season and 7-4 lifetime, and his seven straight quality starts against the Rays is the longest active streak in the big leagues.

Tampa hitters have some impressive numbers against Porcello. Evan Longoria is 8-for-13, Logan Forsythe is 6-for-17 and Steven Sousa Jr. is 6-for-15.

Brad Miller is 2-for-8, but both Miller hits have been home runs.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are dealing with all kinds of injuries as they look to complete a 6-2 homestand -- losing All-Star utility man Brock Holt, among others, to a left ankle sprain in Friday's 6-5 win.

Rays left-hander Matt Moore, still completing his comeback from Tommy John surgery that ruined his 2014 and '15 seasons, has won two straight starts for the first time since Sept. 24 and 29, 2013.

On Saturday, he hopes to give Tampa Bay its fourth win in its last 24 games.

He has thrown at least six innings in six straight starts and is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his last five outings.

Moore is 4-4 with a 4.67 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox, but held them hitless for the first five innings and scoreless for seven in St. Petersburg June 29 -- and has a string of 12 2/3 scoreless innings against them.

Despite constant trade rumors, Moore remains focused on the task at hand.

"There's things that are going on in our clubhouse that are on the forefront of my mind right now, and that's just to get us back into a good place, which is winning more games than I'm losing," Moore said.

"That other stuff, I still feel very comfortable right now. I'm not really sure what's going on there. I don't feel like anything's going to happen, to be honest with you."

David Ortiz, who has done extensive damage to the Rays over the years, is 8-for-23 with three homers and eight RBIs against Moore, while Mookie Betts is 5-for-9 and Xander Bogaerts and Travis Shaw both 5-for-10.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is just 1-for-8 while Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-20 (one homer) off of Moore.