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TEX@NYY: Kuroda wins 11th with two-hit masterpiece

When the Red Sox and Yankees get together for a Sunday night meeting, there's always something on the line. This edition will be no different.

For the Red Sox, it's still a bit early to consider the season on the line with every passing day, but a series victory at Yankee Stadium would be a good place to start climbing back in the thick of the playoff race, at least.

To pick up that jolt of momentum on Sunday, the Red Sox need one of their struggling star pitchers to get back on the beam against a veteran who has proven to be a valuable offseason pickup for the Yankees.

It's Josh Beckett vs. Hiroki Kuroda under the lights in the Bronx for the rubber match, and the two right-handers couldn't be coming off more different starts.

On Tuesday, Kuroda delivered what Yankees manager Joe Girardi called probably the best start by any Yankees pitcher all season. The right-hander -- 11-8 with a 3.06 ERA -- went the distance for the first time this year, allowing just two hits in a 3-0 shutout of the American League West-leading Rangers, losing his bid for a no-hitter in the seventh.

Beckett, on the other hand, was chased in the sixth inning of his last start, against the Orioles, who managed six runs on six hits and two walks against the right-hander.

"It'd be nice to win a game," Beckett, who's 5-10 with a 5.19 ERA, said after that one. "I've got to pitch better. I can't put these guys in a hole like that."

The bright side for Beckett heading into Sunday's game is that his 3.00 ERA in six starts against the Yankees since the start of last season is the best in the AL during that span (minimum 25 innings). He's 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last two starts in the Bronx.

But the Yankees are a tough nut to crack at home lately. They're 26-13 at Yankee Stadium since May 22, having won 15 of their last 23, even after Saturday's 4-1 loss to the visitors from Boston.

With another Sunday night meeting on tap, the first-place Yankees and the fourth-place Red Sox may be separated by 12 1/2 games in the AL East standings, but they still bring the goods every time.

"I think it's the intensity of the rivalry, the intensity of the crowd," Girardi said. "You walk around that day or a couple days before -- everyone knows that the Red Sox are coming into town or that you're going to Boston. If another team is coming to town, it's, 'Who are you playing this weekend?' A lot of it has to do with the intensity of the fans."

Red Sox: Hot Crawford's left elbow a concern
• Carl Crawford, who hit a single on Saturday, leads the Majors with 10 doubles and 13 extra-base hits in August, but it's his left elbow and just how soon it might be reconstructed that is drawing attention in Boston.

A Boston Globe report on Saturday said Crawford might ask to have a Tommy John procedure on the elbow as early as next week, but general manager Ben Cherington said that discussion has yet to take place.

"Carl's playing through an elbow injury," Cherington said. "He's been trying to help the team win. It's a situation we're monitoring. We've been in close contact with him. We'll continue to talk to him and determine a course that's best for him and the team. There's nothing more than that right now."

The 10 doubles match Crawford's career high for any month, and he needs three extra-base hits to match his career high for August (16 in 2005).

• Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double on Saturday. During that stretch, he has hit at a .412 clip (21-for-51) with seven doubles, a triple, a homer, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and five walks. One more game with a hit, and he'll match his season-high 14-game stretch from April 29-May 13.

Yankees: DL under consideration for Teixeira
• With the status of his inflamed left wrist still a day-to-day prospect, first baseman Mark Teixeira remained on the active roster but unavailable for Saturday's game, a second day in a row out of the lineup.

The soreness returned after Teixeira rested for a few days before playing for 14, so the Yankees have to consider whether a couple of weeks of rest will be needed to get the star switch-hitter back to form.

"We talk about it every day," Girardi said. "Of course we're going to talk about it; that's what we do. He took three days off last time, and he was pretty good. For whatever reason, it came back. You talk to the player. Everyone plays a little beat up; it's to the point where you're too beat up, in a sense, to be productive. That's what we weigh.

"If we feel after two or three days that maybe he needs a whole week, we might try to make it like that. If he needs two weeks, we'll do that. We're going to do what it takes to try to get him healthy."

• Nick Swisher had his third three-hit game of the season on Saturday to continue a scorching homestand in which he's gone 10-for-24. Swisher homered from both sides of the plate in Friday night's 6-4 win and has four homers and 11 RBIs in the first six games of the Yankees' homestand.

"What I've seen from Swish is he's been patient, he's gotten his pitch and he hasn't missed it," Girardi said. "That's the biggest thing, not so much in his swing. He's going through a great streak right now, and he's not missing pitches."

Worth noting
• Following Sunday's game, the Yankees will head on the road to face the White Sox for three games starting on Monday, while the Red Sox will head home to host the Angels for three, starting on Tuesday.

• The AL East rivals have two more series against each other: a three-game set from Sept. 11-13 at Fenway Park and a three-game series to conclude the regular season from Oct. 1-3 at Yankee Stadium. Comments