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Outlook: Aceves needs to find consistency in 2013

Alfredo Aceves will make his first regular-season start with the Red Sox in almost two years on Thursday at Fenway Park when he takes the mound in the series finale against the Orioles.

With right-hander John Lackey on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right biceps, Aceves is set to make his first start since June 21, 2011.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Wednesday that going into the season the organization pegged Aceves as the first option to join the rotation if needed. That line of thinking hasn't changed.

"It just made sense for us to stick with that," Cherington said. "We'll see what he does. He's certainly capable of being a good starting pitcher. He has the pitches in the mix. He's excited for the opportunity. We'll see how it goes."

Lackey suffered the injury on April 6 at Toronto in the fifth inning. Aceves relieved him and went 3 2/3 innings to complete the game, a 5-0 Boston loss. Aceves is known to have a rubber arm and has made nine starts in five previous Major League seasons.

"One of the reasons we talked so positively about Alfredo is the versatility he does have, and we'll get a look at that [Thursday] night," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Meanwhile, the Orioles will turn to right-hander Chris Tillman as they look to win the series.

Baltimore was on the verge of losing its fourth straight game Wednesday when it entered the ninth inning trailing by two runs, but the O's scored five runs off Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan, including a three-run homer from Manny Machado after Alexi Casilla scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.

Tillman was shaky in his season debut on April 6, allowing five runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Twins.

"I was real pleased with the stuff he featured, just couldn't get into a consistent rhythm," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Tillman's last outing. "He'll be better."

In five career starts against the Red Sox, Tillman is 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA. In his only two starts at Fenway, the right-hander has allowed just one run over 11 innings.

Orioles: Trio of pitchers on the mend
Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will begin a throwing program on Thursday in Sarasota, Fla., with pitching rehab coordinator Chris Correnti. Bundy, on the disabled list with right elbow discomfort, is one of three Baltimore pitchers rehabbing injuries at the club's spring facility.

Steve Johnson is scheduled to throw either three innings or roughly 55 pitches in a simulated game on Saturday. The right-hander is recovering from a lat strain.

Tsuyoshi Wada continues to progress from Tommy John surgery and could join Johnson on Saturday. Wada has thrown two batting practice sessions.

Red Sox: Stephen Drew makes season debut
Stephen Drew made his Red Sox debut on Wednesday, but he went 0-for-4 with a groundout to end the game. The shortstop was activated from the disabled list before the contest after missing the first seven games due to a concussion.

"It's a good feeling to be back," Drew said. "It was kind of a long process. I didn't know when I would be back. The symptoms are gone, and I'm ready to get back after it."

Drew's return led to the demotion of prospect Jose Iglesias, who played well in six games and hit .450.

Drew, 30, hit .265 over seven previous big league seasons with 77 home runs and 349 RBIs. His best year was in 2008 with Arizona, when he hit .291 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs. The Red Sox signed Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million contract in December.

Worth noting
• Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-11 (.364) in his career against Tillman, with one double and two RBIs.

• Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is 6-for-18 (.333) against Aceves in his career, with one home run and two doubles.

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