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CLE@BOS: Lackey holds Tribe to three runs over 6 2/3

The Red Sox haven't hit much in the last few weeks, or much of this season, for that matter. But with consistent starting pitching and a bullpen that refuses to yield, Boston has made up for it in some ways.

On Wednesday, the Sox will go for a three-game sweep behind right-hander John Lackey, who in 2014 has been as consistent as they come. He'll oppose Minnesota righty Kyle Gibson in a midweek matinee at Fenway Park before the Sox head to Oakland and the Twins return home to face the White Sox.

Gibson has tossed seven scoreless innings in each of his past two starts, against the Tigers and Astros. He has allowed one or no runs in eight starts this season and 27 combined in his other five outings.

He entered his last start with a 7.39 road ERA, but was able to get out of a big jam by getting Detroit's Miguel Cabrera to ground into an inning-ending double play in the fifth.

"There was a big chance for that inning to blow up and become a two-, three- or four-spot and be right back to a normal road start for me," Gibson said. "From a development standpoint, that's going to be big for me."

Lackey, meanwhile, has a 3.24 ERA and 4.50 K/BB ratio in 14 starts. He's surrendered three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts and got some rare offensive support in his last outing, a 10-3 decision over Cleveland on Friday.

Boston's lack of offense, though, has begun to tax its bullpen. Manager John Farrell hasn't been able to work in struggling Chris Capuano and Edward Mujica because many of their games have been so close, though Mujica got the save in Tuesday's 2-1 win. Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop and Koji Uehara, in particular, have been needed in high-leverage situations more often as a result.

"They've done a great job of taking care of themselves to be available on multiple days consecutively," Farrell said. "We'll continue to balance it out and not put anyone in harm's way."

Boston's bullpen ranked fourth in the Majors in ERA and first in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) entering play Tuesday.

Red Sox: Holt starts in center for first time
• It seems there are few things Brock Holt can't do on a baseball field, and Tuesday, the Red Sox tested that theory even further by starting him in center field for the first time.

Righties have had more success against Minnesota's Tuesday starter, Phil Hughes, so Farrell wanted to get left fielder Jonny Gomes in the lineup. That meant lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. would sit in favor of Holt. Switch-hitter Daniel Nava started in right.

Holt made a terrific catch in the third, laying out for a high fly ball that Gomes appeared to settle under routinely. But the left fielder lost it in the lights before Holt, about 20 feet behind him, dove to make the grab.

This season, Holt has played 23 games at third base, six at first and seven in the outfield.

He came through the Pirates' system as a second baseman, but when he came to Boston last winter, he needed to find a new home on the field. He saw time at third initially before Stephen Drew rejoined the club and the Sox moved Xander Bogaerts to the hot corner. But with how well Holt has been swinging the bat --- .338/.378/.464 entering Wednesday --- Farrell wants him in the lineup.

"He's done an excellent job on both sides of the ball," Farrell said. "We're fully confident that Brock will do a consistent job in center."

Twins: Nunez expects to be available Wednesday
• Utility man Eduardo Nunez said he'll likely be available Wednesday off the bench. He's been slowed by a strained hamstring since Saturday.

Manager Ron Gardenhire hopes Nunez will be back in the lineup by Thursday, and acknowledged the difficulties of playing with a three-man bench while Nunez is limited.

"It limits your ability to pinch-run and all those things," Gardenhire said. "We have to wait until the last second to make decisions like that right now. I want him healthy, and it's taken longer than I originally wanted."

Worth noting
• Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A New Britain on Wednesday. He's been on the disabled list since Friday with a right shoulder strain.

Hicks has posted a .198/.338/.262 slash line in 48 games for Minnesota this season.

• The Red Sox designated outfielder Grady Sizemore for assignment Tuesday morning, but there have been no discussions on whether or not he'll accept a Minor League spot if no other team claims him.

"Today wasn't the time to talk about that. That would be up to him at some point, if he wanted to consider that," general manager Ben Cherington said. "I'm sure he'd have opportunities to do that if he wanted to, but I'm guessing he'll probably try to see if there's a Major League opportunity out there."

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