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Up next: Red Sox

By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 28, 2006


WHAT'S NEW: Since the Rays left Boston last week, the Sox have gone 2-4 on the first two legs of their road trip. They have continued to redefine themselves as a team based more on pitching and defense than power, ranking 10th in average and home runs and eighth in runs in the AL but fifth in team ERA and second in fielding, with only nine errors in 22 games. In an attempt to add offense, they are expected to start playing Wily Mo Pena in centerfield, though that could hurt their defense. Another big plus for the Sox has been the emergence of rookie closer Jonathon Papelbon, who has nine saves in nine chances.

INJURIES: Centerfielder Coco Crisp remains sidelined with a finger fracture, veteran left-hander David Wells is on the DL with a knee problem, reliever David Riske is out with a back strain.

KEEP IN MIND: Though last week's series was uneventful, there is always a chance for extracurricular activity when the Sox and Rays get together. Especially on Sunday, when Sox ace Curt Schilling, who seems to have an opinion on everything, matches up with Rays ace Scott Kazmir, who seems to have the answers when facing Boston. ... Tropicana Field fans will also get their first look at reliever Julian Tavarez, who started the spring training brawl by punching Joey Gathright in the head. ... Sox batters have drawn 102 walks, second in the AL to the Yankees, while their pitchers have walked 61, tied for fifth fewest in the league. ... Lefties are 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA against the Sox.

WHO'S HOT: LF Manny Ramirez lost a six-game hitting streak Thursday. He was 9-for-22 during that stretch.

WHO'S NOT: DH David Ortiz is 5-for-19 over his past five games, though with two homers.

SERIES: The Sox won two of three last week, lead the overall series 89-45 (71-27 since 2001) and are 41-25 at the Trop.