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Sox looking to feast on home cooking

Sox looking to feast on home cooking

CHICAGO -- What better time for the Red Sox to take advantage of their dominance at Fenway Park than crunch time?

With 25 games left in their season, the Sox come home for an eight-game homestand, which kicks off Tuesday night against the Orioles.

"Let's just leave it that we're excited to go home. That's always a good feeling," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

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Clay Buchholz, who has emerged as an important cog in the rotation, will draw the opening assignment against Baltimore.

The right-hander has demonstrated improved mental toughness this season, particularly in his most recent outing, in which he bounced back to turn in a quality start after giving up two runs in a rocky first inning.

"Right from the first inning, it was something I had to sort of battle through," said Buchholz. "We scored two in the bottom of the first, and I'm already thinking I've got to put a zero on the board to get us to the dugout. It didn't happen, and right from the get-go I knew the pace of the game was we were going to be at each other's throats. I didn't have my best fastball. My offspeed pitches were decent. It was a battle, but I kept us in the game."

After losing three out of four in Chicago -- and scoring a total of just 10 runs in the process -- the Red Sox will welcome the opportunity to swing the bats amid the cozy confines of Fenway.

"That, and I'm out of underwear," quipped Francona. "But, yeah, coming home, it's just good to get home. It feels like we've been gone for a long time. I know we haven't, but it certainly seems like it."

The Red Sox lead the Rangers by 2 1/2 games in the Wild Card standings.

"The position we're in makes it a lot easier," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "We're not looking up at two or three teams having to do monumental things. We just have to go out and play well at home like we have and hopefully start to distance ourselves. Once you get to the playoffs, it's completely different. We have to get there first."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Clay Buchholz (4-3, 4.40 ERA)
The wiry right-hander has settled into a nice groove of late, winning his past two starts and giving up three earned runs or fewer in five of his past six outings. Most recently, Buchholz allowed six hits and three runs over six innings in a victory over the Rays. Two starts ago, he fired 8 1/3 brilliant innings against the Blue Jays, striking out nine. Now he faces the Orioles for the first time since Aug. 2, when he was belted around for nine hits and seven runs over four innings of a no-decision.

BAL: RHP David Hernandez (4-6, 4.54 ERA)
Hernandez walked six batters in his most recent outing en route to a no-decision, continuing a streak that has seen him allow home runs in seven consecutive starts. The right-hander has allowed 12 total long balls in that span, going 1-4 with two no-decisions. Hernandez, a high-fastball pitcher, works best when he's coaxing fly balls and striking batters out.

Tidbits
Lefty reliever Hideki Okajima struggled on the road trip, giving up five earned runs over two innings. Okajima has been scored on the past four times he's pitched. ... Shortstop Alex Gonzalez has an 11-game hitting streak, and Victor Martinez has hit safely in 10 consecutive games. ... David Ortiz will try to regroup after a 2-for-22 road trip.

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
• WEEI 850, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Paul Byrd, 1-1, 7.56) vs. Orioles (Jason Berken, 4-11, 6.07), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 12-7, 3.44) vs. Rays (James Shields, 9-10, 4.02), 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.

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