The Boston Red Sox are trying to create some separation atop the AL East.
The Baltimore Orioles would like to further tighten the crowded race.Mike Carp will try to continue his offensive surge as the Red Sox open a four-game series with the Orioles at Camden Yards on Thursday night.Boston (41-26) leads the division, which has Baltimore (37-29), New York and Tampa Bay within five games of first.The Orioles are third, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, who took two of three from the Rays following Wednesday's 2-1 victory.Despite scoring five runs with 13 hits -- 12 singles -- over the last two games, the Red Sox are hitting .303 with 24 homers while averaging 6.3 runs during a 13-6 stretch.Carp has been a pleasant surprise, going 12 for 25 (.480) with three homers and eight RBIs over his last seven games, increasing his season average 55 points to .330. He's 3 for 16 in six meetings with the Orioles.Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.84 ERA) wouldn't mind some offensive help since he's been backed by two runs or fewer in six of his last seven games. He's 1/3 with a 5.21 ERA over that span.The left-hander got two runs Saturday, but he gave up three in six innings of a 9-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.Doubront can point to the offense for his 0-2 record in three starts versus Baltimore -- all coming last season. He's compiled a 2.70 ERA, while receiving five total runs of help.The Orioles are looking to rebound from Wednesday's 9-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels, only their second loss in 10 home games. They've won five of six in Baltimore against Boston, but have yet to meet there this season.Kevin Gausman (0-3, 8.84) is scheduled to get the ball against the Red Sox for the first time, and he's getting a fifth chance at his first career win.The 22-year-old rookie, selected fourth overall out of LSU in last year's draft, has given up seven runs while failing to complete five innings in two of his last three starts. He was tagged for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings of an 8-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday."I feel like I'm throwing good pitches, and sometimes I get the outcome that I hoped, and sometimes I don't," Gausman said. "A little frustrating, but I feel good ... mentally and physically, I feel good, and I feel like I have the stuff to be here. I just haven't produced."Manny Machado is on the brink of matching his career-high 11-game hitting streak set from April 22-May 2. The 20-year-old third baseman hit .426 during that run compared to only .262 over the past 10 games.He's batting .406 with nine RBIs over his last eight games with Boston, and he's 3 for 5 with a homer versus Doubront.Chris Davis is 5 for 10 with a double and a homer off him, and he's 11 for 24 (.458) over his last eight meetings against Boston. He's also homered in five of the last six games, driving in seven runs and scoring as many.The first baseman hit his major league-leading 21st homer Wednesday.