David Ortiz is nearing 400 career home runs and has been on a torrid pace recently. The Boston Red Sox have been reaping the benefits of Big Papi's latest power surge and target their second series win over the Miami Marlins in a one-week span this evening at Fenway Park.
Ortiz clubbed the 395th home run of his career -- a two-run shot -- in Tuesday's 7-5 win versus the Marlins in the series opener, and has four homers and eight RBI in his previous eight games. Ortiz owns four multi-hit games in that stretch.
Adrian Gonzalez broke a 5-5 tie with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning for the Red Sox and Will Middlebrooks plated Kevin Youkilis with an RBI double for insurance an inning later. Kelly Shoppach hit a two-run homer and Cody Ross added a solo blast for Boston, which has won three straight and five of six games.
The last time the Red Sox won four in a row was during a five-game run from May 11-15.
Ross was activated off the disabled list prior to the game and had been sidelined with a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.
Clay Buchholz was able to improve to 8-2 on the season despite not having his best stuff. Buchholz was reached for six runs and seven hits in five innings, while four relievers held the Marlins scoreless the rest of the way. Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves combined to toss three scoreless frames, with Aceves notching his 17th save in the ninth.
"Clay didn't have his best stuff tonight but the offense seemed to sense that and just took over," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "They knew what they had to do to get him enough runs and did it."
Red Sox second baseman and 2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia left the game in the seventh inning after aggravating a right thumb injury that forced him to miss some time last month. Both Pedroia and the Red Sox are hoping it's not a serious ailment. Nick Punto replaced Pedroia at second base for the start of the eighth inning.
Pedroia is hitting .269 with five homers, 26 RBI and 35 runs this season. He sustained a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb back on May 28 against Detroit and didn't return until June 5.
Boston opened a nine-day, nine-game homestand on the right foot and will also welcome Atlanta and Toronto to Beantown. The Red Sox have won 11 of their last 19 games at Fenway Park, and are still last in the AL East at seven games off the lead. Toronto is just one-half game ahead of Boston for fourth place.
Felix Doubront leads the Red Sox with 81 strikeouts and matched a season-high with nine in his last start. Doubront will try to set some more batters down when he takes the mound tonight versus the Marlins. Doubront was aided by his offense the last time out in a 10-2 drubbing of Miami last Wednesday and allowed two runs and three hits through seven innings.
Doubront has won three of four starts and improved to 7-3 with a 4.17 earned run average in 13 outings this season. The left-hander is 2-2 in six home starts this season and has struck out six or more batters in six straight trips to the mound.
Miami has been struggling mightily in June and hopes to even this series with Boston tonight. It has lost two straight, five of six and 11 of the last 13 games to fall below .500 for the first time since May 5.
The Marlins are 1-3 so far on a six-game road trip and displayed some pop in Tuesday's loss. Logan Morrison finished 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and five RBI, while Hanley Ramirez posted two hits and three runs scored in defeat.
Starter Mark Buehrle fell to 5-8 in his first season with Miami and allowed six runs and seven hits in five innings.
"We finally come out and score a bunch of runs today, after struggling to do so recently," Buehrle said. "But I went out there and gave them all back. I was definitely frustrated by it."
The Marlins are six games off the lead in the NL East and will return to south Florida in a few days for a nine-game residency versus Toronto, St. Louis and Philadelphia.
Opposing teams are batting .271 against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, who will toe the rubber for the 14th time this season on Wednesday. Nolasco has yielded at least three runs in seven straight starts and has dropped two straight and three of four trips to the hill.
Nolasco squared off against Doubront in that 10-2 debacle and was reached for four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in six innings. The righty dropped to 6-5 in 13 starts to go along with a 4.37 ERA and is just 2-5 in his past seven outings. Nolasco has given up a home run in each of his last four starts and is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox.
Nolasco has fared well on the road this season, going 4-1 in six attempts.
The Marlins, who lost two of three at home to the Red Sox last week, won the inaugural series with Boston back in 1997, but have lost each of the eight series since. The Marlins are 10-18 overall in this series.