The Boston Red Sox have had little trouble scoring runs over the last three games. That's not been the case during Daisuke Matsuzaka 's two starts this season.
Looking for a fifth straight win, the Red Sox hope to give Matsuzaka some support Thursday night and complete a home sweep of the reeling Miami Marlins .
Boston (35-33) has totaled 29 runs and 38 hits in the last three of a four-game winning streak. The Red Sox recorded 16 of those hits during Wednesday's 15-5 rout of Miami, which has dropped three in a row and 12 of 14.
With Dustin Pedroia out after re-aggravating his injured thumb in Tuesday's 7-5 win, David Ortiz hit a grand slam as Boston won for the sixth time in seven games to move out of last place in the AL East."Hitting is definitely contagious and so is winning," said shortstop Mike Aviles , batting .345 in his last seven games. "Any time you get a couple of wins together you just get that good confidence going and you just keep rolling with it and that's where we're at right now."
Ortiz, 9 for 20 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in his last six games, has a chance to homer in four straight contests for the first time since Aug. 9-12, 2001.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 5 for 9 with two home runs in his last three games after going 2 for 26 in his previous seven.
While it's uncertain if Pedroia will play in the finale, the Red Sox would settle for even a portion of their production from Wednesday to help support Matsuzaka (0-2, 5.73 ERA).
After missing more than a year while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander is still trying to find his rhythm after two starts. His teammates, however, have totaled two runs over those outings and none with him on the mound.
He gave up three runs and walked three in six innings of a 3-0 loss to the Cubs on Friday.
This is the first time Matsuzaka will face a Marlins team that is 4-13 in June after going 21-8 in May. Omar Infante had three hits Wednesday as Miami (33-35) made strides by posting five runs for the second consecutive game after failing to score that many in each of its previous 12 contests."It's going to happen," said outfielder Logan Morrison , who hit his seventh homer and second in as many games. "Everybody's positive to get it done.
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton is one Marlin waiting to breaking out of a 1-for-19 slump over the last five games.
Miami starting pitchers have a 5.94 ERA this month after posting a 3.53 ERA in May.
"When the starting pitchers don't give you what you want, you can get into a lot of trouble," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
In his last two outings - both against Tampa Bay - Zambrano has allowed 11 runs and walked nine in 4 1-3 innings. After back stiffness forced him to exit after giving up seven runs in 2 1-3 innings of a 13-4 loss to the Rays on June 9, Zambrano left after giving up four runs and six walks in two innings of an 11-0 loss at Tropicana Field on Friday."Back is all right," Zambrano said. "I still believe in myself."
The right-hander has a 5.91 ERA and no record in two starts against the Red Sox.
|June 16, 2012||Sandy Rosario||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|May 23, 2012||Austin Kearns||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 23, 2012||Austin Kearns||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 19, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Left thumb sprain|
|May 18, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb sprain|
|May 04, 2012||Logan Morrison||Day-to-Day||Right knee soreness|
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 19, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Left game - right thumb|
|June 18, 2012||Scott Podsednik||15-Day DL||Left groin injury|
|June 17, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Toe discomfort|
|June 17, 2012||Scott Podsednik||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Josh Beckett||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 09, 2012||Rich Hill||15-Day DL||Left elbow strain|
BOSTON (AP) -- Down two runs in the eighth inning, Boston's big guns had a chance to produce.
And Daniel Nava , Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Kalish did.
The trio with a combined 113 games of major league experience before this season teamed for a three-run, eighth-inning rally and the surging Red Sox completed a sweep of the stumbling Miami Marlins , 6-5 on Thursday night.
Boston tied the score on a two-run homer by Middlebrooks, who drove in four runs. Kalish then singled, raced to third on a groundout to first and scored on Nava's go-ahead single up the middle.
"I love to see guys growing and learning and excelling at the same time," manager Bobby Valentine said. "It's, I guess, a perfect combination."
None of the three began the season in the majors.
Middlebrooks got there on May 2 when fellow third baseman Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list, Nava on May 10 and Kalish last Sunday. Middlebrooks is batting .316 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 38 games while sharing time with Youkilis.
"It really hasn't been bad" as a part-time player, he said. "I knew that was going to be my role and I just try to accept it."
Nava is hitting.340 in 35 games and Kalish is hitting. 267 in four games. All three have been aggressive on the basepaths.
"When we were called up here we wanted to gain (the club's) trust and let them know that we can come through and help them win," said Middlebrooks, 23. "So it's good to see it happen."
The Red Sox won their fifth straight game and seventh in their last eight as they matched their season-best mark of three games over .500.
Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 21 opportunities. Scott Atchison (2-0) allowed one hit over the seventh and eighth.
The Marlins took a lead in all three games but lost them all as they dropped their fourth straight overall and 13th in their last 15.
"This hurt a lot," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We've got to come back with a winning attitude. Fight for it. Good fighter fight the fight. Bad fighter throw in the towel."
Miami went ahead 5-3 with two runs in the sixth. Giancarlo Stanton , in a 2-for-31 slump, hit his first homer in 12 games and 15th of the season to make it 4-3. That ended Daisuke Matsuzaka 's streak of 14 consecutive outs and brought in lefty Andrew Miller .
He retired the next batter before giving up a single to Greg Dobbs and a run-scoring double to Omar Infante .
Jarrod Saltalamacchia started the winning rally in the eighth with a double off Randy Choate . Edward Mujica (0-3) came in and served up Middlebrooks' long, tying shot.
Then Nava, who had six singles in the last two games, lined a clean single to center.
"It's fun to watch them, especially in a situation like that," Atchison said. "We hit a two-run homer and then we play a little small ball to go ahead and take the game. It's fun to watch. It doesn't matter who's doing it, but it's really fun to watch these guys come up and contribute."
In just his third start of the season since having Tommy John elbow surgery on June 10, 2011, Matsuzaka gave up a leadoff single in the first to Jose Reyes , who went to third on a slow grounder to shortstop Mike Aviles , who got the out at first. Stanton walked and stole second and both runners scored on a single by Dobbs. After Dobbs stole second, he came in on a single by Infante.
Matsuzaka ended the inning by retiring Scott Cousins on a fly ball to center and didn't allow another runner until Stanton homered.
"We jumped up those few runs and still kind of felt a little shaky," Stanton said. "It wasn't like `Hey, we've got this.' And the result ended that way."
Carlos Zambrano gave up one hit through three innings before Boston tied the game with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.
"He gets too anxious with people on base," Guillen said.
Zambrano hit the first two batters, Cody Ross and Saltalamacchia, in the fourth. Ross scored on a single by Middlebrooks and Saltalamacchia came in on a sacrifice fly by Aviles.
The Red Sox evened the score at 3 on another RBI single by Middlebrooks, driving in Adrian Gonzalez , who led off the fifth with a walk.
NOTES: The Red Sox are 24-14 since May 11, baseball's third-best record in that span. ... Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia returned to the lineup after missing one game as a precaution when he felt discomfort in his right hand on his last at-bat in Tuesday night's 7-5 win. ... Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria spoke to his struggling team before the game. ... Miami optioned RHP Chris Hatcher to New Orleans and recalled LHP Mike Dunn from the Triple-A team. ... The Red Sox begin a three-game series at home against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, sending Jon Lester (4-4) to the mound against Jair Jurrjens (0-2). ... Anibal Sanchez (3-5) is scheduled to pitch Friday night for Miami in the opener of a three-game home series against Toronto, which plans to start Ricky Romero (7-1).