Red Sox, Rangers close out high-scoring series

One thing that is becoming certain is that if the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox do meet in the postseason, the series is likely to feature a healthy dose of offense.

The two playoff-hopeful clubs close out a three-game series this afternoon with a rubber match at Fenway Park.

The Rangers captured their first four meetings with the Red Sox this year by a 30-11 margin, including the opener of a four-game set last week, before Boston answered with three consecutive victories to close out that series. The Red Sox captured those contests by a combined 30-7 count.

The offense didn't slow down in Friday's opener, with the Rangers rolling to a 10-0 victory to win for the fourth time in five games. However, the Red Sox countered Saturday afternoon with a 12-7 margin, exploding for eight runs in the fourth inning.

Carl Crawford highlighted the monster frame with a grand slam and Dustin Pedroia added a three-run double in the game for the Red Sox, who had lost three of four but remained a half-game behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East. They do hold the wild card position, with a nine-game edge over the Rays for the final playoff spot.

Erik Bedard picked up his first victory since June 15 and first with Boston since being acquired prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. He struck out six and gave up three runs over six innings.

"I threw a lot of pitches in the first couple of innings, tried to battle," Bedard said. "I threw strikes and kept the ball down, got through six."

Texas tried to make a run of it late, with Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre hitting run-scoring singles during a three-run eighth inning. Esteban German then smacked a pinch-hit homer in the ninth, but the Rangers couldn't complete the rally and saw their lead over the Angels for the top spot in the AL West dip to 3 1/2 games.

Starter Colby Lewis got through just 3 1/3 innings, getting charged with four runs on seven hits.

"Command, couldn't get the ball down," Rangers manager Ron Washington commented about Lewis' struggles. "You keep giving these guys opportunities with runners in scoring position, they're going to come through. They finally did."

Washington will hope for a better effort today from Matt Harrison, who hasn't started since getting blasted by the Red Sox on Aug. 24. The left-hander gave up seven runs on 11 hits in five innings of that 13-2 loss, falling to 2-1 with a 7.13 earned run average versus Boston lifetime.

Harrison buried himself early by allowing four runs in the first frame, an inning Crawford capped with a two-run double.

"I put us in a hole and feel like I lost the game for us," Harrison said.

The 25-year-old did make a relief appearance on Wednesday versus Tampa Bay and hurled two shutout innings. He is 10-9 with a 3.54 ERA on the season.

John Lackey looks for another win over the Rangers after beating the club on Aug. 23, when he allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings. The former Angel ran his career record versus Texas to 12-13 with a 6.04 earned run average, but then lost for the second time in three starts since a six-decision win streak last time out versus the Yankees.

The right-hander gave up four earned runs over seven innings of a testy 5-2 loss as the benches emptied in the seventh inning when Lackey hit Francisco Cervelli with a pitch.

"I was definitely not trying to hit him," Lackey said. "I was trying to knock him down for sure. See where he stands in the box, you've got to get him off the plate a little bit. I threw a 3-1 pitch that he hit out and, yeah, I was definitely not trying to hit him but I was definitely trying to move him back. You don't want to put a runner on base in a two-run ball game."

The 32-year-old fell to 12-10 with a 5.94 ERA in 23 starts this season.