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Red Sox aim for fourth straight victory over Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- The hottest team in the American League will try to keep it rolling against the worst in the majors, as the Boston Red Sox will go for their fourth straight win against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night.

It's the last of four straight games between the Red Sox (37-28) and Phillies (21-43), who played two in Boston on Monday and Tuesday before traveling to Philadelphia to play the remaining pair at Citizens Bank Park.

The Red Sox have taken the first three, including a 7-3 win Wednesday night that saw Mookie Betts go 4-for-5 with three RBI and four runs scored. That gives Betts 10 hits in his last four games, as he picked up his second four-hit outing in three games against the Phillies; he also went 4-for-5 in an 11-inning win on Monday in Beantown.

"The way he's on a five- or six-game run here, he's swinging the bat with a lot of authority, a lot of extra-base impact," manager John Farrell said.

Boston is 16-7 since May 21, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers (16-6) for the best record in baseball during that span. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is 6-17 since May 21.

Boston starter Chris Sale will be going for his fifth win in a row on Thursday as he starts the final of the two-game series. Sale (8-2, 2.97 ERA) hasn't taken a loss since April 27, at which point he was 1-2; he has come away victorious in all but one start since, despite a 4.22 ERA in that span.

Still, he has gone at least seven innings in all but three of his starts and is the AL's leader in strikeouts (126). Sale's last time out, he gave up three runs in seven innings of an 11-3 win over Detroit, beating Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

"That's a tough team over there. I've seen quite a bit of them," Sale said. "They've given me some fits over the years. ... Teams like that, it's nice to kind of get over the hump."

The five-time All-Star, who has spent his entire career in the American League, has faced the Phillies only once -- taking a loss while giving up six runs on seven hits in four innings last September.

Pivetta was called up to the Phillies in late April and has gone 1/3 with a 5.52 ERA in six starts. He has gone either 4 2/3 or five innings, giving up between one and four runs each time; he gave up four runs on four hits and four walks in five innings of a 7-0 loss to St. Louis on Saturday.

This will be the first career start against Boston for the rookie, who was 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley before his call-up.

"He's taking his lumps," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told the Philadelphia Inquirer after Pivetta's last start. "This is his first exposure to the big leagues. It's not easy. He's learning quickly that you can't make a lot of mistakes at this level."

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