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Tavarez looks to outduel Santana

Tavarez looks to outduel Santana

The last time the Red Sox faced Johan Santana at the Metrodome, the American League's most dominant left-hander struck out 13 over eight innings in a no-decision on June 13. But since then, the Sox and Josh Beckett beat him last Sept. 21, 6-0, at Fenway Park. And Santana's long unbeaten streak at home ended last month. If Santana can't locate his fastball on the corners early, the Sox should not be overmatched.

Curiously, the Sox have not won a series at the Metrodome since a four-game sweep in 2000, the first season the teams began playing only one series a year in each city. Winning this game, with Curt Schilling opposing the struggling Sidney Ponson on Sunday, could make this a most productive weekend for Boston.

There shouldn't be many surprises in the Sox lineup. Manny Ramirez is 3-for-16 (.188) with one homer and five strikeouts against Santana. Jason Varitek has hit Santana the best (7-for-16, .438), and in that 13-strikeout game homered for Boston's only run. David Ortiz, Santana's pal and former Twins teammate, is 2-for-8 with three strikeouts.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (1-2, 7.58 ERA)
Tavarez was unable to complete six innings in any of his first four starts. He did manage to win his last start, giving up three hits and three runs over five-plus innings against the Yankees on Sunday. Tavarez has 11 strikeouts and eight walks in his 19 innings of work. Lifetime against the Twins, Tavarez is 2-2 with a 5.26 ERA in 16 games.

MIN: LHP Johan Santana (3-2, 3.60)
The two-time Cy Young Award winner has been so-so early. Against the Tigers on Sunday, Santana gave up three runs over six innings and did not retire the side in order in any inning. Plus, Santana is no longer unbeatable at the Metrodome. After extending his season-plus home winning streak to 17, Santana has lost his last two starts at home to Tampa Bay and Cleveland, leaving his home ERA an un-Santana-like 5.40.

Player to watch
With his 3-for-3 performance Friday night, Alex Cora is 13-for-28 (.464) with three triples, two homers and nine RBIs in his last 11 games.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 3-1, 3.15) at Twins (Sidney Ponson, 2-3, 6.67), 2:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 6-0, 2.72) at Blue Jays (Victor Zambrano, 0-1, 5.63), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 3-2, 5.45) at Blue Jays (TBA), 7:07 p.m. ET

Pat Borzi is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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