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Dice-K tries to twirl another hot start

Dice-K tries to twirl another hot start

BOSTON -- Though none of their pitchers have a win to show for it, the Red Sox have gotten gems from their starters in the past three games.

First, there was Clay Buchholz, who suffered a 2-1 loss to the Rays on Saturday. The next day, Josh Beckett struck out 13 Tampa Bay hitters, but he fell short, thanks to the Red Sox getting shut out.

On Tuesday night, Jon Lester turned in one of his finest performances as a Major Leaguer, firing eight one-hit innings and taking the no-decision in what wound up as a walk-off 1-0 win by the Red Sox against the Blue Jays.

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Now it's up to Daisuke Matsuzaka to keep the rotation roll going. Exactly one week after Matsuzaka was scratched from a Fenway Park start against the Angels with the flu, he climbs back on the mound to face the Blue Jays.

"I think the biggest thing we'll look at as the game unfolds is, 'How is his stamina?'" said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. "Fortunately, the weather is going to be a little bit cooler, so he's not going to have to deal with heat and humidity, but we've got an idea going in what his pitch count will be. Again, I think, what potential jams or situations [he] has to work out of will give us that information."

Meanwhile, the Red Sox will again have to do some inventory regarding their health. Right fielder J.D. Drew left Tuesday's game with tightness in his left quad. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia jammed his left shoulder while making a game-saving defensive play against Jays center fielder Vernon Wells in the ninth inning.

One thing Boston manager Terry Francona will have in this contest is a rested bullpen. Only closer Jonathan Papelbon had to pitch on Tuesday, going one inning. This, after Beckett went seven innings on Sunday and Buchholz worked a complete game on Saturday.

Matsuzaka will try to make it another short night for the 'pen. Though he's had issues with his pitch count in recent starts, Francona senses a more comfortable Matsuzaka this year.

"I think he's more adjusted," Francona said. "He has teammates he's more comfortable with. There's not as much of a language barrier. Every time he pitches now, it's not a new experience. He has something to rely on."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (4-0, 3.14 ERA)
Matsuzaka missed his last start, thanks to a flu bug that was passed around by several members of the team. The right-hander has labored a bit in his past few starts, though the Red Sox are 5-0 when he pitches. In Matsuzaka's last outing, he gave up five hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings in beating the Rangers. He threw 101 pitches. Matsuzaka hasn't pitched seven innings in a start yet this season. Dice-K pitched four times against the Blue Jays last season, going 3-1 with a 5.18 ERA.

TOR: RHP Dustin McGowan (1-2, 4.18 ERA)
On Thursday, McGowan picked up a loss against the Rays at Disney's Champion Stadium after yielding five runs (four earned) on four hits over four innings. The right-hander struck out six, but he issued a career-high seven walks in his worst start of the season. McGowan is 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA in four career games, including two starts, against the Red Sox.

Tidbits
Alex Rios (5-for-11, one homer) and Aaron Hill (4-for-11, one homer) both had good success against Matsuzaka last season. ... The Red Sox hope to get center fielder Jacoby Ellbury (soreness in groin) back in the lineup on Wednesday. ... Boston's victory on Tuesday snapped a seven-game losing streak against Toronto. ... The Red Sox haven't had an extra-base hit in their past three games.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

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

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, 2-2, 6.07) at Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 2-0, 4.06), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Rays (Edwin Jackson, 2-2, 3.86) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 1-2, 4.08), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Rays (James Shields, 3-1, 2.54) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 2-2, 4.10), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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