(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox enter the final leg of a long sequence of games against National League West teams when the American League East contenders enter AT&T Park for tonight's clash with the San Francisco Giants.
Boston has played three consecutive series against NL West foes and won the first six tests of that stretch, producing home sweeps against Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox then traveled to Colorado and lost their first two matchups with the Rockies before coming out on top of a wild 13-11 thriller in last night's finale.
Dustin Pedroia's third homer of the game, a two-run shot in the top of the 10th inning, provided the winning margin and lifted Boston to its 17th victory in its past 24 contests. The scrappy second baseman also had a solo homer in the fourth inning and a two-run blast in the eighth and finished 5-for-5 with four runs scored.
Marco Scutaro reached on an infield single with one out in the 10th and two batters later, Pedroia hammered the second pitch he saw from Huston Street into the left-field seats to put Boston ahead.
"I got it on the barrel, I back-spun it," Pedroia said. "The thin air, I was just hoping it would get in the first or second row."
The homer gave Jonathan Papelbon (2-2) the win despite the Boston closer blowing a save for the second straight night. The 2009 All-Star surrendered a game-tying two-run single to Brad Hawpe in the bottom of the ninth but fared better in the 10th, retiring the side in order to finish out the game.
Papelbon took the loss in Wednesday's 8-6 defeat to the Rockies after serving up a pair of ninth-inning homers, including a walk-off two-run blast to Jason Giambi.
Adrian Beltre also had a big night at the plate for Boston on Thursday, with the third baseman going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. Jason Varitek and Mike Cameron each added two-run doubles in the slugfest.
Boston's potent offense will be facing a tough left-hander in tonight's opener of this three-game series. The Giants' Jonathan Sanchez has been hard to handle on his home mound this year, having compiled a 4-2 record and a 2.32 earned run average in seven AT&T Park starts thus far in 2010. In his most recent home assignment, the Puerto Rico native held AL East member Baltimore to two runs over 7 2/3 innings to earn the win in San Francisco's 10-2 decision on June 14.
Sanchez wasn't as sharp in Toronto this past Sunday, however, lasting just 2 2/3 innings and allowing three runs (two earned) in a no-decision against the Blue Jays. He struck out five batters, but also issued an unhealthy five walks.
The 27-year-old's only previous appearance against Boston came in relief during the 2007 season. Sanchez pitched one inning that day and gave up a solo homer to ex-Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez.
Boston sends out the struggling Tim Wakefield tonight. The veteran knuckleballer is just 2-5 with a 5.33 ERA in 15 games (11 starts) and has permitted four runs or more in four of his past five outings. That was the case once again on Saturday, when Wakefield was touched for four runs (three earned) over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers.
Wakefield is just 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA over that five-start stretch, although he has managed to pitch into the seventh inning in each of his last three games.
The 43-year-old has also had some problems against the Giants in the past, having posted a 2-3 record with an unimpressive 6.03 ERA in six career encounters with San Francisco. In his only previous start at AT&T Park, Wakefield was tagged for seven runs (six earned) in just four innings back in 2004.
San Francisco returns home after being dealt back-to-back losses to non- contending Houston earlier in the week. The two defeats have pushed the second-place Giants to 2 1/2 games back of San Diego in the race for the NL West's top spot.
In Thursday's 7-5 setback to the Astros, starting pitcher Matt Cain was rocked for seven runs on nine hits -- including a pair of homers -- before exiting after 2 2/3 innings.
"You think about it and try to figure out what happened," said Cain afterward. "You really just try to flush it as soon as you can and go on from there."
The Giants, losers of four of their last six, did receive a two-run homer from Pat Burrell and a 3-for-3 day out of Aaron Rowand in Thursday's tilt.
Boston enters Friday's play tied for second in the AL East standings, two games back of the division-leadingNew York Yankees.
The Red Sox swept a three-game series from the Giants when these teams met in Boston during the 2007 season. However, San Francisco won two of the three meetings between the clubs held at AT&T Park in 2004.