Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said he's tired of the negative publicity the team receives.
There's not much negative that can be said about the Red Sox's recent results.
Boston looks to match a season high with a sixth consecutive victory Friday night when the Atlanta Braves make their first visit to Fenway Park in three years.
Before the Red Sox (36-33) completed a three-game sweep of Miami with Thursday's 6-5 victory, Ortiz fired back at a recent report that said the team's clubhouse is "toxic."
"I don't know, man, I'm just tired of dealing with the drama here," he told the Red Sox's official website. "... It seems like everything that goes on around here is like one of those Congress decisions that will affect the whole nation. It's not like that, man. This is baseball. We're supposed to have fun, to have our performance out there at the highest level."
Ortiz has been doing that, batting .375 with four homers and 11 RBIs to help Boston win seven of eight following a 1-7 skid.
The Red Sox, who won six straight from April 23-28, have an opportunity to move a season-best four games above .500 after rookie Will Middlebrooks homered for the second straight game and drove in four runs."I love to see guys growing and learning and excelling at the same time," manager Bobby Valentine said of Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish , who sparked a three-run, eighth-inning rally. "It's, I guess, a perfect combination."
The Red Sox will try to post their first six-game interleague winning streak since June 15-20, 2010, with Jon Lester (4-4, 4.53 ERA) on the hill.
The left-hander is looking to build off his first win in five starts, a 4-3 victory at Wrigley Field on Saturday when he gave up three runs - all coming on a Luis Valbuena homer - in 6 2-3 innings.
Lester, 1-2 with a 5.98 ERA in seven starts at Fenway Park this season, will try to avoid the long ball Friday when he faces the Braves for the first time getting his first win in his second major league start, a 4-1 victory at Atlanta on June 16, 2006.
Heyward is batting .400 (10 for 25) during a seven-game hitting streak. The team is 9-2 when he has two or more hits.
"We're really, really good when Jason's swinging the bat well," catcher David Ross said.
The Braves (37-32) could use a good outing from Friday's scheduled starter Jair Jurrjens (0-2, 9.37 ERA), who is scheduled to make his first appearance since April 23.
Sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett following four poor outings, the right-hander is back in the rotation - at least for now - with Brandon Beachy out for the season following Thursday's Tommy John surgery.
"This could be a big pickup if (Jurrjens) goes back to the form he had last year (when he made the All-Star team)," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Braves' official website.
Jurrjens is 3-1 with a 1.34 ERA in eight career interleague starts. His only defeat against an AL team while pitching for the Braves was a 4-1 home loss to Boston on June 26, 2009. Five days earlier, the right-hander did not earn a decision after lasting 6 1-3 innings in a 6-5 loss at Fenway Park - Atlanta's last game in Boston.
Ortiz hit a two-run shot off Jurrjens in that game and is 3 for 6 with two homers lifetime against the right-hander.
|June 17, 2012||Brandon Beachy||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|June 16, 2012||Brandon Beachy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right elbow soreness|
|June 13, 2012||Freddie Freeman||Day-to-Day||Left thumb discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Eric O'Flaherty||Day-to-Day||Left elbow soreness|
|June 09, 2012||Tim Hudson||Day-to-Day||Bone spurs in left ankle|
|June 02, 2012||Brian McCann||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left knee|
|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||Scott Podsednik||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|June 17, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Toe 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) -- Jair Jurrjens showed the skill that made him an All-Star last season - before knee problems and two months in the minors sidetracked his outstanding career.
In his first start since being called up, Atlanta's winningest pitcher in 2011 allowed one run on three hits and shut down the hot-hitting Boston Red Sox, leading the Braves to a 4-1 win on Friday night.
"Awesome," Jurrjens said. "That's the only word I can come up with. Awesome. It felt great. There's no words to describe how good I felt."
Jurrjens, demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on April 23 after going 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts, worked 7 2-3 innings and left after allowing an RBI double by Daniel Nava that drove in Will Middlebrooks , who led off the eighth with a double. Boston's only other hit was a clean single to left field by Adrian Gonzalez in the first.
"We just never got him deep in an inning," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "Everyone thought he looked good to hit and they were anxious to do it and just didn't get the results."
Jurrjens (1-2) was called up Friday and retired eight consecutive batters before Middlebrooks' double, which followed two innings in which Jurrjens threw a total of 14 pitches. He also allowed runners on a walk and a hit batsman and struck out four.
Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 22 opportunities.
Andrelton Simmons drove in two runs for Atlanta and Jason Heyward had two doubles and a single, improving to 7 for 11 in his last three games. The Braves won their third straight game after losing seven of eight.
Boston's five-game winning streak ended one day after it completed a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins in which it scored 28 runs.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 14 minutes by rain.
Roger Clemens sat in the first row above the Green Monster in left field. He received a subdued mixture of cheers and mostly boos when shown on the center-field scoreboard after the third inning with the words "Welcome Back Roger Clemens " on the screen. The former Red Sox pitcher was acquitted Monday on all six counts that he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
The Braves got at least one hit in each of the seven innings pitched by Jon Lester (4-5).
"I don't think there's anything wrong with my mechanics," Lester said. "I'm throwing the ball fine, just not getting the results."
Jurrjens began last season 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six starts. By the All-Star break, he was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA. But he struggled in the second half, going 1-3 and making two trips to the disabled list with a lingering problem in his right knee. His last appearance of the season came Aug. 30 and the knee wasn't back at full strength when this season began.
Even at Triple-A Gwinnett, he had a 5.27 ERA in nine starts.
"I was lacking strength and going down there helped me get back to correcting my delivery and getting strength in my leg again," Jurrjens said.
And he was much better when he returned.
"I guess it's a little easier to pitch in the big leagues than in Triple A," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez joked. "This is the J.J. of last year, really, when he was rolling and made the All-Star team. So it's a nice lift."
Especially with Brandon Beachy , tied for the major-league lead with a 2.00 ERA, having season-ending Tommy John surgery on Thursday.
The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Freddie Freeman led off with a single, took third on a double by Heyward and scored on a groundout by Matt Diaz . Heyward scored on a double by Simmons.
Atlanta made it 3-0 in the sixth when Heyward doubled, took third on a fly out to right by Diaz and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Simmons. Freeman singled in Michael Bourn with the final run in the eighth.
NOTES: Valentine told struggling 3B Kevin Youkilis that he can expect less playing time. Rookie 3B Middlebrooks started his second straight game Friday, the first time since Youkilis came off the disabled list on May 22 that he hasn't started two consecutive games. He is hitting .174 with no homers in June. Middlebrooks is batting .319 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 39 games. ... RHP Randall Delgado (4-7) pitches for Atlanta on Saturday night against Franklin Morales (0-1). ... Atlanta is 7-1 in its last eight road games.