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MIL@CIN: Bailey hurls eight three-run innings

The Red Sox and Reds engaged in one of the legendary battles in baseball history in the 1975 World Series, which was eventually won by Cincinnati's Big Red Machine in seven games.

However, that Fall Classic has some permanent warm memories for Boston fans -- in particular, Bernie Carbo's pinch-hit, three-run, game-tying homer in Game 6 and Carlton Fisk's homer off the foul pole that won that game in the 12th inning.

Aside from 1975, these two tradition-laden teams hardly have any other history against each other.

When the Reds come to Boston for the start a two-game series on Tuesday, it will mark just the third time the teams have played since 1975 -- and the first at Fenway since 2005.

Though both teams have been to the postseason numerous times in recent years, neither is off to a strong start.

The Red Sox are 15-17 and the Reds are 14-16.

Felix Doubront will face Homer Bailey in the opener. Jake Peavy, no stranger to the National League, gets the nod in Game 2 against Mike Leake.

"They are the defending world champions, which is a big enough problem to overcome by itself," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "Doubront and Peavy are two quality arms. They are off to the same kind of start we've gotten off to. I loved going to Fenway with Seattle. Before the unbalanced scheduled, we went there a lot. I love that stadium, the vibe there. Our field is not really conventional, either, but it's nothing like [Fenway]."

Despite being below .500, Boston has shown signs of improvement lately, taking two out of three over the AL-West leading A's.

"I'll take two out of three the rest of the year," said Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino. "We've just got to execute. That's it. Collectively, we haven't been able to do it. Sometimes that's part of the game."

The Red Sox and Reds will also meet in Cincinnati for a two-game series on Aug. 12-13.

Red Sox: Pierzynski's first Fenway homer
• A.J. Pierzynski no longer has to be reminded of his career goose egg in the home-run column at Fenway Park.

Boston's catcher belted a game-tying homer to right in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the A's.

"It's nice to finally get one," Pierzynski said. "I've played in a lot of games here."

Pierzynski has looked increasingly comfortable with the Red Sox in recent days.

"He's really stepped up as a leader in the clubhouse," said Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. "He's a veteran player. He's been around. He's seen all sides of the game. It's good to have him here."

Reds: Chapman could return on Friday
• The Red Sox won't have to worry about facing fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman, as the lefty continues to recover from a frightening injury sustained in Spring Training. However, the good news for the Reds is that the lefty could return on Friday.

"He'll pitch a couple times for [Triple-A] Louisville and then meet us back here when we come off the road," Price said.

Chapman pitched on Thursday and Saturday for Class A Dayton, his first game action since March 19.

On that day, he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City's Salvador Perez. Surgery was required to repair fractures near his nose and left eye. A three-inch plate and 12 screws were inserted to stabilize the bones around his left eye, and staples in his scalp were removed on April 2.

Worth noting
• The only Sox players with more than two career at-bats against Bailey are Grady Sizemore (2-for-10) and Shane Victorino (4-for-11, HR).

• The Red Sox are 3-8 in one-run games this season.

• The Reds were swept in their only previous regular-season visit to Fenway Park back in 2005, being outscored in that series, 23-4.

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