Rangers visit Red Sox in meeting of first-place teams

First-place teams square off on Tuesday, as the Texas Rangers begin a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Texas heads into this series holding the best record in the American League at 35-21 and is 1 1/2 games up on the Oakland Athletics in the West. Boston, meanwhile, is a game back of the Rangers for the overall lead, but sits 2 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East.

Texas secured a series win on Sunday, as Jurickson Profar's solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.

After Kansas City tied the game in the top of the eighth, Profar delivered the decisive blow with two outs and no one on off J.C. Gutierrez (0-1). Elvis Andrus followed with a single, then stole second and scored an insurance run on David Murphy's single up the middle.

"I was trying to go with the sinker and I just left the ball up, and he hit it," Gutierrez said. "I was feeling pretty good. I was making my pitches. I just made that one mistake and I paid for it."

Profar and Nelson Cruz had two hits apiece for Texas, which got seven scoreless innings from starter Yu Darvish. The right-hander allowed just three hits and fanned six, upping his major league-best strikeout total to 111.

Tanner Scheppers (4-0) pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning to earn the win.

Getting the call for the Rangers on Tuesday will be righty Justin Grimm, who has won his last three starts. The rookie's latest win came on Thursday against Arizona, as he allowed two earned runs in six innings to improve to 5-3, while lowering his ERA to 3.93.

Grimm was a 2007 draft pick of the Red Sox.

"It's a good atmosphere, I know that much," Grimm said. "It's going to be pretty cool to pitch at Fenway. I'm expecting a good crowd. I'm expecting to show up ready to go, ready to compete and be aggressive with them, and go after it. If I do that, it's going to be a good game."

Boston will counter with Ryan Dempster, who pitched for Texas down the stretch last season after being acquired from Chicago in a deadline day deal. Dempster signed with the Red Sox as a free agent this winter and has struggled, going just 2-6 with a 4.45 ERA.

"He's a great competitor," Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus told the team's official website. "He's going to go out there and try to get you out. He's got great stuff. It's going to be good to face him again."

Dempster, though, pitched well in defeat last Tuesday against Philadelphia, as he gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings of a 3-1 loss.

Boston took two of three from the Yankees over the weekend and is 7-3 in its last 10 games.

Texas has won 11 of the last 14 overall meetings and 10 of 13 at Fenway Park.