Josh Beckett goes for win No. 17 this evening, when the Boston Red Sox play the middle test of their three-game series with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Boston dropped a game to their fierce rivals in the opener of this set on Tuesday. Johnny Damon went 2-for-4 with a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning that vaulted the Yanks to a 5-3 win.
Derek Jeter homered and Jorge Posada added two hits and an RBI for the Yankees, who broke a two-game losing skid and moved within seven games of first-place Boston in the AL East.
With Seattle's loss to the Angels, New York pulled within a game of the Mariners in the AL wild card race.
Andy Pettitte (12-7) yielded six hits and three runs over seven innings, fanning six and walking two. The crafty left-hander has now won six games in the month of August.
Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-11), who came into the game 2-0 against New York this season, allowed six hits and five runs over 6 1/3 innings. He has not won in four starts since an August 4 win at Seattle.
Jason Varitek homered for the Red Sox, whose four-game win streak came to an end. David Ortiz drove in the other Boston run with a sacrifice fly and Mike Lowell added two hits in defeat.
Boston's Manny Ramirez collected two hits, including a solo home run, before leaving the game in the middle of the seventh with muscle spasms in his lower back. He is questionable for tonight's affair.
Beckett, meanwhile, has won his last three decisions and is 16-5 with a 3.21 earned run average this season. He earned the win in his last start against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, when he allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Beckett is 1-0 in two starts against the Yanks this season and 3-2 lifetime against them with a 7.91 ERA in seven starts.
New York will counter with future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens, who is 5-5 with a 4.34 ERA this season. Clemens received a no decision on Friday against the Detroit Tigers, as he gave up six runs and six hits in five innings of his team's 9-6 extra-inning loss.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner, who of course, spent the first 13 years of his illustrious career in Boston, is 8-5 against his former team with a 3.85 ERA in 19 starts.
Boston has won seven of its 13 matchups with the Yankees this season, but has lost four of the seven meetings in the Bronx. New York has won the season series from the Red Sox the last two years.