Wednesday July 27, 2011 | 08:50 AM

In John Lackey's first four decisions this year, he went Loss, Win, Loss, Win.

Since then, Lackey has an interesting pattern: 0-3, 3-0, 0-3, 3-0.

The Red Sox obviously hope Lackey (8-8, 6.28) breaks that pattern tonight and wins his fourth straight decision, vs. the Royals and Bruce Chen.

The Yankees have kept the Mariners losing, but Seattle counters with Felix Hernandez today.

As for the standings, it is looking like a Boston-New York race for the AL East with the "loser" being the top contender for the wild card berth.

AL East
Boston 63-38
New York 61-40 (2 back)
Tampa Bay 53-49 (10.5)

Wild Card
New York 61-40
Angels 56-48 (6.5 back)

Pawtucket lost a tough one Tuesday. Nate Spears (.251) put the PawSox ahead with a 10th-inning home run (his 7th). But Jason Rice (3.90) gave up 3 hits and 2 runs in the bottom of the inning, taking the loss.

Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-5 for Pawtucket, hitting two doubles, with 4 RBI. His numbers after 38 games: .367, 40 RBI, 1.174 OPS.

Lavarnway's former catching colleague in Portland, Tim Federowicz, went 2-for-4 (.272) for the Sea Dogs, hitting his 7th home run ... Chris Balcom-Miller (4.50) pitched 5 2/3 innings: 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K ... Blake Maxwell (1.78) got his 10th save (1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 K).

Salem's Anthony Ranaudo (4.31), the Red Sox top pitching prospect, keeps hitting a wall that affects his pitching line. For 5 innings, Ranaudo threw a shutout, allowing 4 hits and 1 walk, striking out 3.

He began the top of the 6th, allowing a home run, double and walk, and then left the game. His final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is hitting only .221 in Greenville. But Bogaerts, only 18, is considered a pretty good prospect. He showed something Tuesday, going 3-for-5 with a home run.

I will be at Fenway later today. Follow the tweets  - @ClearTheBases.



About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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