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MLB: Garrett Richards, Red Sox set to battle Phillies

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Garrett Richards will look to get the Boston Red Sox off to a strong start in their final series before the All-Star break when they open a three-game set against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

The Red Sox are tied for the major league lead with 54 victories, but they have lost two consecutive games and three of five. Boston returns home after dropping two of three against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.

“Every time we lose a series, we’re disappointed. Now we move on, ” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve got the Phillies for three, (so we will) try to win the series and enjoy the All-Star break.”

Richards (4-5, 4.88 ERA) has been up and down through the first half of the season. In his latest outing on Saturday at Oakland, the veteran right-hander snapped a string of four straight starts in which he allowed four or more runs.

Although he did not factor into the decision, Richards kept the Red Sox competitive with five-plus innings of two-run ball. He allowed five hits and three walks while striking out two. The Athletics went on to win 7-6 in 12 innings to snap Boston’s eight-game win streak.

Richards has faced the Phillies only once in his career. He tossed seven scoreless innings while allowing five hits and no walks and striking out eight in a 3-0 win as a member of the Angels on May 14, 2014.

Philadelphia has a chance to get above .500 heading into the All-Star break after winning three of four road games against the Chicago Cubs to start the week. The Phillies outscored the Cubs 28-13 in winning the first two games before falling 8-3 on Wednesday, but they bounced back with an 8-0 win Thursday.

Brad Miller hit three homers and knocked in five runs in the series finale.

Philadelphia has won five of its past seven entering the series with Boston.

“I feel (we have momentum),” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “You feel it in the dugout, you feel confident with the lineup we’re throwing out there every day. There’s a little something going.”

Vince Velasquez (3-3, 4.50) gets the start for the Phillies as he attempts to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season.

The right-hander surrendered five runs — his second most in any start this season — on a season-high nine hits, with three walks and four strikeouts, over six innings in an 11-1 loss at San Diego on Sunday.

In his prior outing on June 29, Velasquez turned in a gem in a 4-3 win against the Miami Marlins. He allowed only two hits over seven scoreless innings while walking none and matching a season high with seven strikeouts.

Velasquez has had only one other scoreless appearance this season. He struck out three over 1 1/3 innings in relief during Philadelphia’s 11-3 home loss to the Red Sox on May 21. Boston took two of the three games at Philadelphia, May 21-23.

In four career appearances (three starts) against the Red Sox, Velasquez is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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