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Angels Face Red Sox With Less At Stake Than Usual

(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox are expected to have second baseman Dustin Pedroia back in the lineup this evening when they open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Fenway Park.

Pedroia has been sidelined since June 25 with a fractured bone in his left foot. The Red Sox were 23-21 without the former American League Most Valuable Player and enter play tonight 5 1/2 games back in the AL East and the wild card standings.

"We're in a pennant race," Pedroia said while on a rehab assignment at Triple- A Pawtucket over the weekend. "It's tough sitting there and not being able to help out the guys. I've tried to come back as quick as I can. Hopefully, I can get in there and be feeling good."

The Red Sox did not help their postseason chances this weekend, as they dropped two of three to the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, including a 7-3 setback in Sunday's rubber match in Arlington.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-4) was tagged in the loss for seven hits and four runs in 6 2/3 frames. The loss was Boston's third in its last four games.

Tonight, the Red Sox turn to American League ERA leader Clay Buchholz, who has won his last three decisions. Buchholz defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, allowing just an unearned run in eight innings to improve to 13-5 on the year, while lowering his earned run average to 2.49.

Buchholz beat the Angels back on July 26 and is 3-2 in five starts against them, despite a 5.16 ERA.

Los Angeles, which swept Boston in last year's ALDS, has a bigger challenge on its hands if it intends on returning to the postseason, as it starts play on Tuesday eight games back of the Rangers in the West and 12 1/2 behind in the wild card.

The Angels dropped two of three over the weekend to the Toronto Blue Jays, falling 4-1 in Sunday's rubber match at Angel Stadium.

Dan Haren (1-3) was tagged for four runs on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts over seven innings of work for the Angels, who dropped two of three in the set after sweeping the Royals. Mike Napoli's solo homer accounted for the offense.

"We keep ourselves in the game with our pitching," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We had opportunities, but we couldn't get those big hits to get ourselves back into the game."

Getting the call for the Angels this evening will be righty Jered Weaver, who is 11-7 with a 2.87 ERA and leads the American league with 182 strikeouts. Weaver did not get a decision on Wednesday against Kansas City, but pitched well, yielding just a run and six hits in eight innings, while fanning 11.

Weaver lost to the Red Sox on July 27 and is 2-3 lifetime against them with a 3.81 ERA. He is also just 1-1 with a 7.06 ERA in four games at Fenway.

Boston has won all seven of its matchups with the Angels this season and has never won eight in a row in the series in the same season.