Last week MLB experts power rankings places the Sox in 2nd as they were the first American League team to hit 50 wins on the season. The Sox will enter some interleague play against the San Diego Padres before they head west on the road all weekend and next week. Boston continues to lead the AL East by 2.5 games and should be able to extend that lead after this series. The Padres enter the series 3rd in the NL West with 40 wins and 43 losses sitting just below .500. This marks just the fifth series between Boston and San Diego, with the Red Sox leading the all-time series, 7-5. In somewhat unusual fashion, the Red Sox have scored more runs than any team in the Majors, despite finding themselves in the middle of the American League pack when it comes to home runs. Part of that is offset by the fact that Boston also leads the big leagues in doubles.Aside from David Ortiz's 16 round trippers, the only other Red Sox player with double-digit homers is Daniel Nava with 10. Manager John Farrell admitted that it would be ideal to have more home run potential in the lineup, though he is confident his club will continue to score runs at a high rate.

 

Game 1: John Lackey (5-5) vs. Robbie Erlin (1-) 

Lackey enters play tonight coming off a career record tying personal best 12 strikeouts versus the Rockies last week. Lackey has been a model of consistency for the Red Sox as of late. In each of his last three outings, he's gone seven innings and given up two runs. With Clay Buchholz on the disabled list and Jon Lester struggling, Lackey has re-emerged as a top-end starter. After Lackey suffered a bicep strain he struggled at first but it appears he is still the pitcher we hoped as he has come back very well in his last few starts. Though he will want to keep up his ace performance the Padres will be less of a challenge for him as they have struggled very much lately coming into tonight's game as the are coming off three losses to the Marlins. Yes, the Marlins somehow won 3 in a row... does that triple their wins? The Padres will lean on rookie Robbie Erlin to help them rebound. After being called up to make his first start on June 1 following a pair of relief appearances earlier in the season, Erlin went back to the Minors before returning last Wednesday for another spot start. Erlin turned in his second quality start in as many tries, limiting the Phillies to three runs (two earned) on four hits over 6 1/3 innings.

 

Prediction: Red Sox win 6-2

 

Game 3: Allen Webster (0-2) vs. Eric Stults (6-6)

The Padres have cooled off from a red-hot June, and after Jonny Gomes' pinch-hit walk-off home run gave the Red Sox a 2-1 victory on Wednesday, San Diego has lost five games in a row while the Sox have now won 3 in a row. San Diego will send left-hander Eric Stults, who's arguably been the club's ace so far this season, to the mound. He is looking to bounce back from one of his worst starts in what has otherwise been a strong season. The Marlins tagged him for seven hits and six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings on Saturday. Red Sox starter Allan Webster is looking for his first career win on Thursday in his fifth career start. He showed improvement in his last start, surrendering four earned runs on six hits in six innings on Friday, but did not factor into the decision against the Blue Jays.Boston's No. 4 Prospect is 0-2 with a 9.50 ERA while filling in for the injured Clay Buchholz

Prediction: Red Sox win 6-4