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Knuckleballer Wakefield to close series

Knuckleballer Wakefield to close series

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Discerning Red Sox fans will remember what happened the last time Jeremy Guthrie came to Fenway Park.

For the Orioles, the memory might never fade. Guthrie, then a relatively unknown 28-year-old former prospect, threw 91 brilliant pitches, the last inducing a pop-up to the Red Sox's Coco Crisp. The date was May 13. Guthrie enjoyed a 5-0 lead with two outs to go in the ninth.

Catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped the ball in fair territory. Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo, with a move that might eventually have led to his June dismissal, yanked Guthrie with a runner on first. The Fenway Park crowd rose to its feet.

The Red Sox scored six ninth-inning runs, winning what's now known as the Mother's Day Miracle.

Nearly three months later, Guthrie comes to Boston as one of the American League's most effective starting pitchers. He ranks third in the AL in ERA, a credit, perhaps, to Perlozzo's old pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, who remains on the coaching staff of new manager Dave Trembley.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who received an extra day of rest with Julian Tavarez's Wednesday start, will take the mound for the Red Sox. From Thursday onward, Boston will see the remade Red Sox starting rotation, perhaps upside down: Wakefield, then lefty Jon Lester, then Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (12-9, 4.59 ERA)
Wakefield has not yet faced the Orioles this season. He is 13-13 against them all-time, with a 4.07 ERA. A win or a loss by Wakefield would give him a decision in an incredible 22nd straight start. Only the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano has maintained that pace.

BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-3, 2.89 ERA)
Guthrie has slowed down a bit after a masterful May and June. In six July starts, he registered a 3.93 ERA. The Stanford University product, who has surrendered just one run in 10 1/3 innings against the Red Sox in his brief Major League career, will look to continue solidifying his bid as Baltimore's most reliable starter after Erik Bedard.

Player to watch
Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada, who hammered a long home run off Hideki Okajima on Wednesday night, has hit five round-trippers off Wakefield.

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

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WEEI 850, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 1-0, 4.26) at Mariners (Horacio Ramirez, 6-3, 6.52), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 12-8, 3.75) at Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 8-7, 4.11), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 6-4, 4.20) at Mariners (Miguel Batista, 11-7, 4.23), 4:05 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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