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BOS@HOU: Lackey strikes out 10 over six frames

Whenever the Yankees and Red Sox square off, plenty of chatter surrounds the two clubs.

This time around, much of the conversation has been centered around Alex Rodriguez and John Lackey, Saturday's starter for the Red Sox.

Lackey had plenty to say to the Boston Globe on Thursday about Rodriguez being in the Yankees' lineup during the series. He isn't happy he has to face the third baseman in light of the slugger receiving a 211-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug investigation.

"I've got a problem with it. You bet I do," Lackey said. "How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he's playing. I'm not sure that's right. ... It's pretty evident he's been doing stuff for a lot of years I've been facing him."

While the right-hander has been quite vocal on the matter, Lackey still wants his pitching to do the talking on Saturday at Fenway Park. He hasn't been at his best as of late, but has still been able to go at least six innings in each of his last 11 starts.

Lackey (7-10, 3.32 ERA) took his second straight loss to the Royals on Sunday, allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. He's looking for his first win since July 12.

Lackey will be matched up opposite Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who has been the team's most consistent starter this season.

In his last start against the Angels, Kuroda (11-7, 2.33 ERA) got the win, allowing three hits in eight scoreless innings for his ninth scoreless outing of the season. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start since June 30, a span of seven starts.

"His offspeed stuff is very difficult to pick up," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said after the start. "The rotation on it, you couldn't really pick it up. You had to wait a long time, which made you late on the fastball. If you're trying to hit the fastball, you're ahead on the offspeed. He kept guys off-balance -- very deceptive, very good location."

Yankees: Strong first impression for Reynolds
Released by the Indians last week, veteran corner infielder Mark Reynolds was in New York's lineup as the first baseman for Friday's 10-3 win over the Red Sox, going 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs.

"We saw him play against us a lot last year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He can really swing the bat, hit the ball out of the ballpark, and played an excellent first base, I thought, for Baltimore in the games that we saw him play there. He can change the game quickly."

Red Sox: Middlebrooks could move up in order
Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks has been batting ninth in manager John Farrell's batting order since his return from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 10. However, because of a lack of power from the right side, Middlebrooks could move up in the near future.

"That possibility certainly exists," Farrell said. "He's going to tell us when he's ready. As we've seen of late, the bottom half of the lineup has fluctuated a little bit, and we're trying to ride a little bit more of the hot hand at times and when the matchups might present themselves to be an advantage. That can happen in time."

Middlebrooks has hit the ball well since his return, going 8-for-20.

Worth noting
• The Red Sox have won five of their last seven home games and eight of 14 at Fenway since the All-Star break. They have also won 16 of their last 23, 20 of their last 28, and 26 of their last 37 games at Fenway.

• Ivan Nova will definitely pitch in one of the Yankees' games in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Blue Jays, Girardi said on Friday. He has not decided where to slot Phil Hughes.

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