(Sports Network) - The Arizona Diamondbacks will be attempting to end a franchise-record road losing streak when they wrap up a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park, one of baseball's toughest venues for opposing teams in recent years.
Boston extended Arizona's visiting slide to 12 consecutive games by taking the first two tests of this interleague set, including last night's 6-2 triumph. Jon Lester fired seven effective innings to post his eighth straight winning decision, while Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis both hit two-run homers to ignite the Red Sox' offense.
Lester (8-2) surrendered two runs and just four hits while striking out seven to extend his personal unbeaten streak. The standout left-hander has not lost since April 18, a span of 11 starts.
"[Lester] was kind of fighting himself," Boston manager Terry Francona remarked. "Saying that, you look at his line and it's pretty good."
Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew snapped a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the third inning, and Adrian Beltre followed with an RBI single to pad the lead and help Boston win for the 12th time in its last 17 games. The surge has closed the Sox within three games of American League East co- leaders Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees in the division race.
Boston has also amassed a major league-best 35-19 record since April 20 and has gone 21-9 at Fenway Park during that time period.
The Diamondbacks, who last prevailed on the road on May 17, received a two-run homer from Justin Upton in the second inning of last night's defeat. Rodrigo Lopez (2-6) pitched seven innings for the visitors and gave up all six Boston runs on 10 hits.
"We worked [Lester] tough and had a few baserunners and never delivered the key hit," said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch afterward.
The Diamondbacks are now a brutal 9-24 on the road for the season, the third- worst ledger in the majors. They've also lost in six of their last eight meetings with the Red Sox since coming through with a three-game sweep at Fenway Park in 2002.
Arizona turns to ace Dan Haren tonight in hopes of averting a sweep in this series. The 2009 All-Star seems to have gotten back on track following a rough month of May, as he's posted a 2-0 record and a 2.08 earned run average in three starts after being torched for eight runs in 6 1/3 innings during a May 27 loss to rival Colorado.
Haren was in top form this past Saturday, holding defending NL Central champion St. Louis to two runs and striking out nine without a walk over eight excellent innings to pick up his team-leading seventh victory of the season. The effort lowered the accomplished right-hander's 2010 ERA to 4.61, which is still nearly a run-and-a-half higher than his number from a year ago.
The 29-year-old is just 2-3 in six career starts against Boston, but has recorded a 2.65 ERA over those games and beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park back in 2008 by firing seven shutout innings.
John Lackey takes the ball for Boston in the finale and like Haren, has gotten in a groove after struggling at the outset of the season. The free-agent pickup has gone 3-0 over his last four starts and yielded two runs or less in three of those assignments, with the strong stretch reducing his ERA from 5.07 to 4.54.
Lackey has been noticeably sharp in each of his past two outings, allowing two runs over seven innings in starts against Baltimore and Philadelphia on June 6 and 11, respectively. He limited the Phillies to six hits and did not walk a batter in Boston's 12-2 rout of the two-time National League champions last Friday at Fenway Park.
The right-hander has produced a 5-1 record in seven home starts thus far in 2010, despite an uninspiring 5.10 ERA. Those five wins have come in Lackey's last five trips to the Fenway mound.
Lackey has faced the Diamondbacks only once previously, back in 2009 while still with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He surrendered only one unearned run and struck out nine batters in seven innings during that matchup, but wound up with a no-decision of an eventual 2-1 Angels' win.