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KC@BOS: Dempster fans eight over seven innings

Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster surely knows the statistics.

He's combined to strike out 18 batters in his last two outings and has 33 strikeouts for the season.

Opponents are hitting .186 against him.

What's more, Red Sox starters had not allowed more than three earned runs in their first 16 games before Dempster gave up four runs in his last start against the Royals.

And yes, Dempster knows he does not have a victory this season, but that's just fine with him.

"Yeah. I've said it before -- we push each other to get the best out of each other," Dempster said. "Our job is to go out there and give quality innings and give us a chance to win a ballgame."

Dempster will get another chance on Friday against the Astros and Houston starter Erik Bedard, who pitched for the Red Sox in 2011.

Like most Houston starters, Bedard is not pitching deep into games, and it's taking a toll on the bullpen. Bedard has pitched only 11 2/3 innings during a span of four games, which includes three starts.

In his last start, the veteran allowed six hits and two runs while striking out eight batters against the Indians in four innings. He threw a season-high 75 pitches in the outing, although he was on an 80-pitch limit.

"Erik has some injury history and we're going to do everything we can to make sure we monitor his workload and continue to build him up going forward," Astros manager Bo Porter said.

Bedard believes he can throw 90 to 95 pitches against the Red Sox.

"I think that's everybody's goal [to pitch deep]," he said. "Right now, the starters aren't going too deep. [Lucas] Harrell did a good job [Wednesday], but the starters need to do a better job going deeper so they don't abuse the bullpen. That's what they're going to do. That's not happening now, but eventually we'll get there and throw six, seven innings."

Astros: Maxwell slated to see hand specialist
• Outfielder Justin Maxwell was scheduled to see a hand specialist Thursday. He fractured his left hand when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday.

• Jose Altuve went 1-for-4 on Thursday. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.

• The Astros are 2-8 all-time against the Red Sox.

Red Sox: Sore back sidelines Victorino
• Shane Victorino is experiencing tightness in his lower back and he was out of the lineup Thursday and isn't expected to start Friday.

"We won't even consider putting him in the lineup until he's symptom-free, and even then, it might be best-served to give him one additional day after that," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We're going to go on when he's free and clear of the symptoms."

• The Red Sox called up catcher Ryan Lavarnway from Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday after they optioned pitcher Alfredo Aceves to the PawSox after Wednesday's game vs. the A's. Boston is expected to activate John Lackey from the disabled list Sunday, making Lavarnway's stay in the big leagues a short one.

• "Frozen Fenway 2014" will return in January with two doubleheaders between some of the area's best Division 1 college hockey programs.

Worth noting
• Bedard made eight starts for the Red Sox in 2011, going 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA.

"It was a lot of fun to pitch here," he said.

• The Red Sox have been in first place in the AL East or tied for the top spot in the division since the start of the season, a span of 26 days.

• The Astros have homered in eight of their last nine games. Overall, they have hit 25 home runs in 22 games.

• Rick Ankiel has nine hits for the Astros this season. Five of them have been home runs.

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