The Boston Red Sox moved up the start time of Thursday's series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks to give fans the chance to watch the Game 7 of the NBA finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.
While a championship isn't on the line at Fenway Park, the Red Sox are hoping to be celebrating a sweep of the Diamondbacks as they try to gain ground in the AL East.First pitch between Boston (39-28) and Arizona (26-40) was pushed up one hour in order to allow fans to watch the Celtics try to clinch their second NBA title in three years. Their game against the Lakers begins at 9 p.m. EST.The Red Sox have given Boston fans plenty to cheer about recently. They've won four of five and 20 of 28, including a 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. It was the fifth time in six games they've scored at least six runs, and they are three games behind division co-leaders New York and Tampa Bay.Dustin Pedroia continues to do his part to help Boston get back into contention, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning Wednesday. He finished with two hits for his fourth straight multihit game.Pedroia's average had dipped to .248 in part due to a knee injury, but his surge has come after an MRI on the knee came back negative. The second baseman is 12 for 24 with eight runs scored and six RBIs in his last six games, raising his average to .271."I think when he had his knee checked out, that was good for him. He knew he wasn't hurting himself," manager Terry Francona said. "He's just a good player. You wind him up, and let him go play. He'll produce."The Red Sox will try for their first sweep since winning three straight against Tampa Bay from May 24-26 as they hand the ball to John Lackey (7-3, 4.54 ERA), who has been outstanding in his last two starts.Lackey has won his last three decisions and gave up two runs in seven innings of a 12-2 victory over the Phillies on Friday. The prolific run support came after Boston only scored two runs for him against Baltimore on June 6.The right-hander made his first start against the Diamondbacks last year, giving up one unearned run in seven innings of a 2-1 win.Lackey will try to extend the Diamondbacks' franchise-record 12-game road losing streak. Arizona has scored two or fewer runs in eight of those defeats."Anytime you lose a game, it's tough," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We certainly haven't won a game in our gray uniforms in a long time."Arizona will try to avoid the sweep behind Dan Haren (7-4, 4.61), who has won his last two starts.He pitched eight innings against the Cardinals on Saturday, allowing two runs while striking out nine in a 7-2 win."There's a handful of games every year where you've got everything working, where you've got all your pitches and feel good," Haren said, "and this was one of them."The right-hander is 2/3 with a 2.65 ERA in six career starts against the Red Sox. He is 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in the last three, but has not faced them since 2008.