Red Sox shake off Rays set as Yanks loom

Red Sox shake off Rays set as Yanks loom

ST. PETERSBURG -- Dustin Pedroia, Boston's fiery second baseman, scoffed at the notion that the Red Sox might carry some bad momentum with them to the new Yankee Stadium.

Sure, the Red Sox lost three out of four to the Rays at Tropicana Field. But as far as Pedroia is concerned, those defeats will mean nothing when the rivals square off for their latest joust, this one a mere two-game set in the Bronx that starts on Monday night.

"I think everyone is over this," said Pedroia. "We have 140-something games left. I don't think anyone is hitting the panic button because we got beat three out of four. We're heading to New York, and we'll try to play good baseball. You can't sit back and say, 'Oh no, we lost three out of four, the season is over, let's all go back home.' We're going to be fine. We have a good team and are confident in our abilities."

Some of that confidence was built when the Red Sox swept the Yankees at Fenway Park from April 24-26 in the first rivalry showdown of the season.

Not only did the Red Sox win those games, they did it with drama. There was Jason Bay's game-tying two-run homer in the ninth against Mariano Rivera followed by an 11th-inning walk-off shot by Kevin Youkilis in the opener. Then there was that 16-11 mashing in the middle game, when the Red Sox rallied from a 6-0 deficit. And Boston closed with a 4-1 victory that would have been routine if not for Jacoby Ellsbury electrifying the ballpark by stealing home.

So here they go again, the Red Sox and the Yankees, getting ready for the latest heavyweight bout.

"It's going to be," said third baseman Mike Lowell. "It always is."

And Lowell is a firm subscriber to Pedroia's theory that the bad series against Tampa Bay is next to irrelevant heading into the two games in the Bronx.

"We'll just do something to not think about baseball on the flight and go back at it [on Monday]," Lowell said. "That's the great thing about baseball. There's not much time to dwell on things. Just turn around and get ready for the next game. We didn't play very well this weekend."

As for the Red Sox-Yankees mania, Julio Lugo hasn't been a part of it since July 6 of last season. The shortstop missed the entire second half of 2008 with a left quad injury and was still recovering from right knee surgery when the two teams met up at Fenway last month.

"They're going to want to answer back," Lugo said of the Yankees. "But it's going to be exciting."

Isn't it always?

Pitching matchup
BOS: LHP Jon Lester (1-2, 5.40 ERA)
It wasn't Lester's finest moment. He was hit hard early in his last outing, in Cleveland, but showing fortitude if not his best stuff, he ate up innings for the Red Sox. He didn't let the game get totally out of control, though it might have if he hadn't picked off a couple of baserunners. But so far this season, he continues to look for the consistency that has marked his past. And he needs to be consistent if the Red Sox are to keep their rotation strong with two starters on the disabled list.

NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Winless in the big leagues since Sept. 27, 2007, Hughes snapped the drought in his last start. He showcased sharp stuff in holding the Tigers to just two hits over six scoreless innings on Tuesday. Firing his fastball as high as 96 mph, he spotted his curveball and used his cutter to strike out six, walking two. His biggest moment came in the fourth inning, when he induced Josh Anderson to ground out with the bases loaded. Hughes had been activated from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier that afternoon, summoned to jump into the rotation as right-hander Chien-Ming Wang works on mechanical and physical issues at the club's complex in Tampa.

Tidbits
The Red Sox are 5-8 on the road this season. ... This is the second career start against the Red Sox for Hughes. He was shelled the first time around, giving up six hits and six runs over two innings. ... David Ortiz is still eying his first home run of the season. ... Kevin Youkilis remains torrid, bringing a .407 average into New York.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

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

On television
• NESN, ESPN

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 2-2, 7.22) at Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 1-0, 3.13), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Justin Masterson, 2-1, 4.37) vs. Indians (Carl Pavano, 1-3, 7.46), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 3-1, 2.91) vs. Indians (Aaron Laffey, 2-0, 4.09), 7:10 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.