Sox's cold bats need to turn hot quickly

Sox's cold bats need to turn hot quickly

ARLINGTON -- They are now sharing first place with the Yankees in the American League East, but the Red Sox know that they might soon be looking up at their rival if their bats don't break out.

The offense has gone quiet coming out of the All-Star break, scoring a total of 10 runs over four games. The last three have resulted in losses, matching the team's longest skid of the season.

"It's just one of those things you go through from time to time when not everybody is clicking from time to time, and there's really no magical formula for it," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "Success breeds confidence. You've got to have the success first."

Bay is one of the big boppers who is in a funk. The right-handed hitter is 2-for-15 thus far in the second half. J.D. Drew has one hit in his past 26 at-bats. Jason Varitek is in a 2-for-19 cold spell.

"We're certainly not hitting on all cylinders," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Sometimes this game can frustrate you a little bit. We just have to keep fighting, because sometimes, it's not as easy as you want it to be."

One thing that can ease the burden on Tuesday is that the Red Sox send their ace to the mound in Josh Beckett.

The right-hander makes this start on eight days of rest. The last game Beckett pitched was a complete-game shutout against the Royals.

Beckett has recently displayed the same form that allowed him to finish second in the AL's Cy Young Award voting in 2007. The Red Sox will look for another big performance from the righty in this one.

The offense will try to support the cause.

"People realize you can't do it all at one time, and for the most part, guys understand that," said Bay. "Obviously, it would be nice to get more runs, but we're just not doing it. We're a better offensive team then this -- there's no question."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (11-3, 3.35 ERA)
Beckett earned his 100th career victory on July 12, firing a three-hit shutout against Kansas City at Fenway Park. He's the 33rd active player to reach that plateau. A native of Spring, Texas, Beckett is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA and a 23-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in four career starts against the Rangers.

TEX: RHP Tommy Hunter (1-1, 2.35 ERA)
Hunter earned a tough-luck no-decision after throwing six shutout innings against the Mariners his last time out. That was his second-longest outing of the season. In four consecutive outings this season, he has allowed three runs, two, one and no runs. Hunter is 1-2 over five starts with a 5.81 ERA over 26 1/3 innings pitched in his career at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. This season, however, he's posted a 3.18 ERA over 17 innings there.

Tidbits
David Ortiz has seven extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in his past 10 games, though he's hit just .243 in that span. ... Jacoby Ellsbury has 100 career stolen bases. ... Drew's average is down to .239, the lowest it's been since May 14. ... Dustin Pedroia (.302) is the only Sox player hitting above .300.

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
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 11-3, 4.31) at Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 7-5, 4.67), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 6-4, 3.51) at Red Sox (Brad Penny, 6-4, 5.02), 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.