Red Sox-Orioles Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- Any frustration the Boston Red Sox might have felt after struggling to produce during their season opener has likely subsided.
The reigning World Series champions look to build on their first victory Thursday night in their series finale against the host Baltimore Orioles.
Boston (1-1) went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and managed a Grady Sizemore homer in Monday's 2-1 loss at Baltimore. A day after they were honored at the White House, the Red Sox bounced back with two-run homers from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to win 6-2 on Wednesday.
A year ago, the Red Sox ranked third in the majors by batting .278 with runners in scoring position. They're 1 for 15 through two games, with all but two of their runs coming off the three homers.
Napoli had four RBIs on Wednesday and is 9 for 22 (.409) with seven in his last six games at Camden Yards. Ortiz is batting .455 (10 for 22) with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last five there.
Teammate Dustin Pedroia, who had four hits and scored twice Wednesday, is 6 for 10 in the series and batting .515 (17 for 33) in his last seven games versus Baltimore.
"Dustin, David and Mike. That's three of the better hitters in the league," Boston manager John Farrell said.
Paced by Jon Lester and John Lackey, Boston pitchers allowed six hits, struck out nine and walked one in each of the two contests.
Farrell will hand the ball to Felix Doubront, who won 11 games each of the last two seasons and recorded six losses with a 4.32 ERA in 29 games and 27 starts in 2013. The left-hander posted a 3-0 record but a 4.66 ERA in his final five starts before allowing five runs and three walks in 1 1-3 innings of relief in a 7-6 loss at Baltimore in the regular-season finale.
However, Doubront went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four postseason relief appearances and earned the victory at St. Louis in Game 4 of the World Series.
"My goal is to win as many games as possible," Doubront told the Red Sox's official website.
He is 0-2 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts at Camden Yards.
The Orioles need to find more offense beyond Nelson Cruz, who has homered in both games and accounted for all four runs with three RBIs and a run scored.
"(We've faced) two good pitchers, but our guys don't look at that as an excuse not to do well," manager Buck Showalter told the Orioles' official website.
Teammate Chris Davis, who homered in his first four games en route to leading the majors with 53 last season, is 0 for 6 in the series. He's 6 for 15 with a home run against Doubront, while Cruz is 3 for 6.
Scheduled Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen hopes to stay healthy after he missed almost two months with a strained right oblique in 2013. The left-hander finished 7-7 with a 4.07 ERA in 23 starts and was 0-1 with a 6.62 ERA in his last seven.
Chen went 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox as a rookie in 2012, but in four last season was 0-2 with a 7.29 ERA.
Ortiz and Napoli are a combined 5 for 20 against Chen, but three of those hits were home runs.
Updated April 3, 2014