Slump now a surge, Sox ready for O's

Slump now a surge, Sox ready for O's

BOSTON -- In need of a good slumpbuster? For Manny Ramirez, it looks like the Minnesota pitching staff did the trick rather nicely.

Ramirez came into the three-game set with the Twins in a 2-for-19 slump, but that slowly went away in the form of a .462 average and six RBIs in his three games since returning home.

"Everybody has their ups and down," Dustin Pedroia said. "Some guys are struggling and others have to pick up the slack. We're a team; that's how we win."

Sure enough, the Red Sox won all three contests. They'll look for their fourth win in a row against the Orioles on Friday, the start of a three-game set at Fenway Park that will lead into the All-Star break.

Boston's bats finally coincided with pitching performance against Minnesota, giving the Sox a much-needed series sweep to creep back to within a stone's throw of Tampa Bay in the American League East.

This time around, against Baltimore, they'll have Clay Buchholz returning to the hill for the first time since heading to the disabled list in mid-May. The right-hander has spent his time since then with Triple-A Pawtucket, going 4-2 in that span, with a 2.47 ERA.

Even though Buchholz pitched a no-hitter in his second career start last September, manager Terry Francona has stressed all week that even though he's reached a level of success already, there is still room for improvement.

But both Francona and his players know the sky is the limit for Buchholz once he finds his rhythm.

"He was doing good when he was here," shortstop Julio Lugo said. "Like everybody, he's going to struggle for a while. But he's a good pitcher."

Buchholz, whose last start was a 7-3 loss in Minnesota on May 12, will duel with Brian Burres on Friday. The Orioles southpaw's last start at Fenway was a 9-4 loss on June 1, in which he went four innings and gave up seven runs on 12 hits. Burres is 4-2 since that outing.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Clay Buchholz (2-3, 5.53 ERA)
Buchholz has spent the past two months with the PawSox after a stint on the disabled list with a blister on his throwing hand turned into a Minor League assignment to work on his mechanics. He'll take Justin Masterson's spot in the rotation for a start against the Orioles and will look to find the success he enjoyed in 2007, his first season in the Majors.

BAL: LHP Brian Burres (6-5, 5.07 ERA)
Burres is coming off his third straight start where he was unable to get past the sixth inning, allowing three runs off nine hits over 5 2/3 innings against the Rangers on Saturday. The left-hander did not seem to have good control early, as he allowed the first two of those three earned runs in the first and second innings, and eight of the first nine outs were fly balls, many of them deep into the outfield. Burres has pitched markedly better on the road this season, with a 3.98 ERA, than when pitching at home, where he has a 6.18 ERA.

Sox stuff
The Red Sox swept the Twins for the first time since a three-game set at Fenway from July 29-31, 2005. It was Boston's eighth sweep of the season overall, and its sixth at home. ... The Sox set season highs with 18 runs on 23 hits on Wednesday. ... Ramirez posted multiple RBIs in back-to-back games for the second time this season. ... Pedroia has now hit safely n 17 straight games. ... Sean Casey collected his first RBIs since April 20 on Wednesday.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 5-6, 3.75) vs. Orioles (Radhames Liz, 3-1, 5.94), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 9-1, 2.84) vs. Orioles (TBD), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.