Even after an encouraging performance, David Ortiz may be headed back to the bench.
Set to face left-hander Scott Kazmir, the Boston Red Sox are expected to start Mike Lowell in favor of Ortiz as they try to hand the Los Angeles Angels their seventh straight loss Thursday night.Thanks partly to Ortiz's hitting, Boston (14-14) has a chance to sweep this four-game series and leave Los Angeles (12-17) with its longest losing streak since dropping its final seven of 2001.Ortiz hit a solo homer in a 3-1 win Wednesday night, finishing with three hits to raise his average from .149 to .171."He's done that here a lot," said Angels starter Joel Pineiro, who gave up the home run to Ortiz. "He just throws the bat out there and he's got the power to get it out there."Ortiz was back in the lineup as the designated hitter despite striking out twice and grounding into two double plays in a 5-1 win Tuesday.The veteran, though, may not get rewarded with another start. Lowell has been getting the playing time against left-handers, putting him in line to face Kazmir (2-1, 5.57 ERA).Ortiz is batting .205 (9 for 44) with two homers and 11 strikeouts versus Kazmir, while Lowell has more homers against him than any other player, connecting four times in 40 at-bats.Kazmir is 8-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 23 starts against the Red Sox and is coming off his best outing of the season. He allowed two runs and struck out seven in six innings while not receiving a decision in a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Saturday.Kazmir had a 7.20 ERA through his first three outings.Boston will counter with Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-1, 11.57), who had a tough season debut, giving up seven runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 12-9 loss to Baltimore on Saturday night. The right-hander spent all of April on the disabled list with a neck strain.Matsuzaka is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts against the Angels.Los Angeles continues to struggle at the plate, scoring two runs or fewer in four of its last five games. The Angels were held to a season-low two hits Wednesday, getting a solo homer from No. 9 hitter Brandon Wood.Hideki Matsui started in left field and went 0 for 3. Matsui is 3 for 28 (.107) with eight strikeouts in his last eight games.Manager Mike Scioscia said Matsui is unlikely to play the outfield in two straight games, but with runs scarce for the Angels, Matsui isn't expected to sit out.The veteran, who has played in all 29 games, is one RBI away from 1,500. He will likely be the DH, batting behind cleanup hitter Kendry Morales, who had Los Angeles' other hit Wednesday.Morales leads the Angels with six home runs but hasn't hit one in his last nine games. The first baseman hasn't homered in six games at Boston, batting .208 (5 for 24).