<
>

Marquee matchup: Lester vs. Price

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A few quick hits from Tropicana Field, where Jon Lester will be making his first start since throwing a one-hit shutout against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night in Fenway Park:

* Lester is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA (7 ER/34.2 IP) in five starts this season following a Sox loss. The Rays have been a challenge of late for Lester, who has not won a decision against them since August 2011. Since then he is 0-4 with a 6.11 ERA, though he pitched well in an April start at Fenway Park, limiting them to a run on five hits in seven innings. He received a no-decision in that game, ultimately won by the Sox.

He has fared better in the Trop. Over his last five starts here going back to 2009, he is 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA (7 ER) and 40 strikeouts in 29 innings.

* This will be the fourth time in the regular season that Lester has gone head to head with Rays’ lefty David Price, the 2012 Cy Young Award winner. Each pitcher has a win and a loss with a no-decision. Lester has gone seven innings in all three starts, giving up a total of 4 earned runs in 21 innings. Price went at least seven innings twice and six innings on April 13, when he also got a no-decision, and has allowed 6 runs in 20 2/3 innings.

* The Sox have just 5 hits in 40 at-bats with runners in scoring position in their last four games. The Sox are batting an AL-low .189 (20-for-106) with RISP since the start of May after ranking third in the majors during the month of April (.310).

* The Sox began the season 7-2 vs. left-handed starters, but have lost their last five decisions against lefties (Derek Holland, Scott Diamond, Pedro Hernandez, Mark Buehrle and Matt Moore). They are now 7-7 when a lefty starts.

* There’s a huge difference in Boston's slash line against right-handers (.282 BA/.353 OBP/.823 OPS) and lefties (.270/.312/.690).

* Dustin Pedroia gained another hit after a scoring decision. Pedroia has been given an infield hit on a play in the eighth inning Saturday against Toronto on a play that was originally scored an error on shortstop Munenori Kawasaki.

Pedroia has hit safely in his last six games, going 13-for-24 (.542) to raise his average from .299 to .338, the fourth-highest in the American League.