Surging Red Sox shoot for sweep of Orioles

BALTIMORE -- The Boston Red Sox are in control of the American League East race thanks to their recent hot stretch.

They are riding a seven-game winning streak and hold a five-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays and a six-game advantage over Baltimore heading into the finale of a four-game series with the Orioles on Thursday.

The Red Sox, who won the first three of the series, have just 10 games left in the season. Left-hander David Price (16-8, 3.91 ERA) will pitch for Boston in the series finale, coming in with his own seven-game winning streak, the third longest of his career.

Right-hander Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.72 ERA) will start for Baltimore, which holds the second AL wild-card spot. Toronto is a game ahead of the Orioles in the top wild-card position, and Baltimore is a game ahead of both the Detroit Tigers and the Houston Astros.

Price is 2-1 this year against the Orioles. He gave up two runs on two hits in eight innings during a 12-2 rout of Baltimore on Sept. 12 at Fenway Park.

Hanley Ramirez sat out the Wednesday night game due to a sore shoulder, but Red Sox manager John Farrell said the first baseman also is dealing with some other aches and pains.

Boston is trying to keep focused on the task at hand, winning the division, and trying to not look forward until it is all over.

"We have a young club with a couple of veterans on it," right-hander Clay Buchholz said after he threw seven innings and got the win Wednesday as Boston topped Baltimore 5-1. "For them to get to point where we are lucky enough to win the division, I think that's when everything will set in. We still have a couple weeks left of games."

Tillman has been the team's stopper all season long -- except for his short stint on the disabled list -- and the Orioles need him to come through once more due to their poor play this far in the series.

Tillman is coming off of a pretty good start in a 5-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. He gave up three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

His 16 victories tie a career high that he reached three years ago.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter confirmed the first two starters for this weekend's interleague series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camden Yards -- Yovani Gallardo on Friday and Wade Miley going on Saturday. The starter for the Sunday series finale had yet to be announced.

The Arizona series will be the last three home games for Baltimore this season. The Orioles play their last six on the road -- three each at Toronto and at New York against the Yankees.

The Orioles' inconsistent offense is on a downturn trend in the Boston series. Baltimore has just five runs in the first three games.

"Our guys are really pushing," Showalter said. "They're pushing. Sometimes you can really want something too much, and you can't take that away from them. The want-to is always there for our guys, and it can be a deterrent."