The Boston Red Sox are no longer in the basement of the American League East and seem to have righted the ship with four straight wins. They look to keep the momentum rolling when they shoot for a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins tonight.
Boston has taken the first two meetings with Miami to kick off a nine-day, nine-game homestand and won for the sixth time in seven tries with Wednesday's 15-5 pounding of the visiting Marlins. David Ortiz inched closer to the 400- homer mark (396) with a grand slam, Mike Aviles added a three-run shot, Will Middlebrooks hit a two-run homer and Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered for the Red Sox, who are one-half game ahead of last-place Toronto in the AL East.
Daniel Nava recorded four hits and two runs scored in the lopsided win, while Red Sox starting pitcher Felix Doubront picked up the win. He allowed four runs and nine hits over six innings with four strikeouts and no walks.
"My teammates scored a lot of runs to help me and in this kind of situation where I give up runs too, that helps me," said Doubront. "We're a great team."
The Red Sox still have Atlanta and Toronto on the upcoming home slate.
Ortiz posted the 11th grand slam in his career and is now tied with Joe Carter for 52nd on the all-time home run list. Big Papi has five homers and 12 RBI in his previous nine games, and owns four multi-hit games in that stretch. Ortiz leads the team with 18 home runs, 49 RBI and a .313 batting average.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was scratched due to discomfort in his right thumb. Pedroia, the 2008 AL MVP, 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.
Hoping to pitch the Red Sox to a series sweep of the Marlins tonight will be Daisuke Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka is coming back from Tommy John surgery and is aiming for the 50th win of his career. He has lost both of his starts this season and previously pitched in Friday's 3-0 loss at the Chicago Cubs in which he yielded all three runs in six innings.
Dice-K has never faced the Marlins and lost his home debut on June 9 versus Washington. The right-hander tossed five innings in that one and was hit for four runs while striking out eight batters.
Miami hopes to avoid its third sweep this month and received a short-lived performance from starter Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco allowed nine runs and nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings and Chris Hatcher permitted four runs in just 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Gaby Sanchez knocked in a pair of runs, while John Buck and Logan Morrison both went deep for the Marlins, who dropped their 12th game in the last 14.
"We just need to find a way to win," Morrison said. "We've got to find a way to come out of it and just get one."
Morrison has homered in back-to-back games with six RBI in that span.
The Marlins are 1-4 on a six-game road trip and will return to the Sunshine State tonight to kick off a nine-game homestand versus Toronto, St. Louis and Philadelphia. They wrapped up a nine-game homestand last Wednesday and went just 1-8 on the residency.
Carlos Zambrano will try to pitch himself and the Marlins back into the win column when he takes the ball Thursday. Zambrano has lost consecutive starts since winning two in a row and has lasted no more than 2 1/3 innings in each of his previous outings (4 1/3 total). In an 11-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday, Zambrano allowed four runs on three hits and six walks in only two innings to fall to 4-5 in 13 starts to go along with a 3.92 earned run average.
The right-hander, who gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 frames against the Rays on June 9 and has a 22.85 ERA in his past two appearances, is 3-2 on the road this season and 0-0 with a 5.91 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox.
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 nine series since. The Marlins are 10-19 overall in this series.