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Red Sox eye sweep behind Dice-K

Red Sox eye sweep behind Dice-K

The Red Sox already knew that Daisuke Matsuzaka was a gutty pitcher. But last Friday in Texas, he showed his teammates that he was literally willing to spill his guts for the good of the team.

Dealing with a stomach flu that included vomiting between innings, Matsuzaka willed his way through five shaky innings and earned the win. This time, the Red Sox expect a healthy Matsuzaka to pitch the finale of this three-game series against the Indians on Wednesday night.

"He had no business being out there, pitching in that [last] game," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We've all had the flu, and you don't want to be pitching. You just want to get under the covers and be miserable."

Backed by Matsuzaka, the Red Sox will try to extend their winning streak to six games and sweep the Indians.

The Red Sox are rolling because of their pitching. Catcher Jason Varitek looks for Matsuzaka to keep that trend going.

"Just a quality start," Varitek said. "That's what we look for is quality starts -- nothing more than just a quality start."

There will also be a quality slugger returning to the lineup in this one. After missing three straight games with hamstring tightness, David Ortiz will be back in there on Wednesday.

"We'll take him any day of the week," Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "It's great that we're winning games. It just goes to show that this team is not made on just one player. It just shows you this is a good team."

The Red Sox lead the American League East by 11 1/2 games over the Orioles, 12 above the Blue Jays and 14 1/2 in front of the Yankees and Devil Rays.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-2, 4.43 ERA)
Matsuzaka rode an offensive surge to his seventh win Friday, prevailing over the Rangers despite giving up five runs over five innings in his first career start in Arlington. Matsuzaka is 3-1 with a 5.00 ERA in his first five starts at Fenway Park, where he has allowed a .259 opponents' batting average and three home runs in 36 innings. He will be facing the Indians for the first time in his career.

CLE: RHP Paul Byrd (5-1, 3.81 ERA)
Byrd was aided by some stellar defensive work and some early offense in getting his fifth win of the season Friday against the Tigers. He gave up four runs on nine hits with no walks and a strikeout over 6 1/3 innings, and was elevating his pitches by the end of the outing. Byrd said he shouldn't have pounded the strike zone as much as he did, especially ahead in the count. But pounding the zone has helped Byrd go 37 1/3 innings without issuing a walk.

Player to watch
Youkilis has a 21-game hitting streak. But that isn't his most impressive streak. Youkilis comes into this one with nine straight multihit games, making him the first Red Sox player to accomplish that feat since Jim Rice in 1978.

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

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WEEI-850 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 5-5, 3.36) vs. Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 3-4, 4.13), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 5-2, 3.68) vs. Yankees (Mike Mussina, 2-3, 5.86), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 8-0, 2.65 vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 3-4, 2.51), 8:05 p.m. ET

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