The Red Sox will send one of their hottest starters to the mound against the Mariners tonight.

Believe it or not, it's John Lackey.

The righthander is 5-0 with a 3.58 ERA in his last six starts and is facing a team he historically has pitched well against. Lackey is 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 29 starts against the Mariners and this season has held them to three earned runs in 13 innings.

As the Sox move closer to the postseason, Lackey and Erik Bedard may be competing to see who starts Game 3 of the first series after Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Bedard has made two starts since being acquired from Seattle July 31, giving up five earned runs in 10 innings.

Along with how they pitch over the final weeks, experience could be another factor. Bedard has yet to appear in a playoff game, while Lackey has 14 appearances (12 starts) along with a 3.14 ERA over 78 innings.

Road warriors

The Sox have the best road record in the majors at 35-22, despite an 0-7 start.

Manager Terry Francona believes the team's improved balance has something to do with that.

"I know in the past, there were places that were really tough for us,'' Francona said. "We didn't have a lot of team speed, and, I think, we'd go into the Metrodome or we'd go into Toronto, places like Tampa Bay, with big fields, and we'd get exposed a little bit.