Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 6/6/13
5:29 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury missed five straight games with a groin injury. But fortunately for the Red Sox, he has avoided a DL stint. Ellsbury will be back in the lineup on Thursday. Jackie Bradley Jr. will assume a bench role now that Ellsbury is back. He’ll likely remain in that capacity until Shane Victorino returns, at which point Triple-A seems like a likely destination for Bradley. Ellsbury will bat in his customary leadoff spot on Thursday, which means that Daniel Nava, who filled in quite admirably in Ellsbury’s absence, will drop down. Nava will bat sixth while Jonny Gomes bats second with a left-hander on the mound. Pedro Ciriaco will also get a rare start. He’ll bat ninth and play third base, while Jose Iglesias shifts over to his natural position at shortstop. Thursday’s complete lineups are below. Red Sox (36-24) Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Jonny Gomes, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B David Ortiz, DH Mike Napoli, 1B Daniel Nava, RF David Ross, C Jose Iglesias, SS Pedro Ciriaco, 3B Jon Lester (6-2, 3.53 ERA) Rangers (36-22) Elvis Andrus, SS David Murphy, LF Lance Berkman, 1B Adrian Beltre, 3B Nelson Cruz, RF A.J. Pierzynski, C Jeff Baker, DH Craig Gentry, CF Jurickson Profar, 2B Derek Holland (5-2, 2.81 ERA) 8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox’ offense has been excellent this season. It does have a tendency to come and go from time to time, though. The latest example came in the last two games. The Red Sox scored 17 runs on 19 hits against the Rangers on Tuesday night, but they were limited to just two runs on five hits on Wednesday. The Sox failed to cash in on some chances on Wednesday, and that spoiled another solid outing from John Lackey, who is really becoming a consistent contributor at the back end of Boston’s rotation. We’re now set up for a rubber match on Friday, with Jon Lester and Derek Holland squaring off in a battle of southpaws. Lester will be looking to end a brief skid. He has allowed at least four runs in each of his last three starts, going 0-2 in that span, which includes last Friday’s game in New York when he was outpitched by Yankees ace CC Sabathia. Overall, Lester has had a very good season, but he’ll need to get back on track in order for the Red Sox to keep rolling. He’ll have his work cut out for him on Thursday. Not only will Lester face a tough Texas lineup, but Holland is having a solid season on the hill. Thursday’s action is slated to get going at 7:10 p.m. Be sure to tune in on NESN, and keep it right here with the live blog for some extracurricular activities.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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