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Athletics-Red Sox Preview

AP - Sports

Mike Napoli is on a tear for the Boston Red Sox, and that's been fairly common for him at Fenway Park.

The Oakland Athletics' production at the plate has suddenly slowed.

Napoli will try to continue his torrid stretch as the Red Sox go for another win over the A's in the middle game of this series Tuesday night.

Napoli leads Boston (13-6) with 25 RBIs, driving in 14 over the past seven games. The first baseman has been superb over that stretch, going 11 for 29 with two homers, five doubles and one triple while his average jumped 58 points to .278.

A career .259 hitter, Napoli is very productive at Fenway, where he owns a .365 average with six homers and 22 RBIs over his last 14 games - 10 with the Red Sox.

He connected for his fourth career grand slam and added an RBI double to spur Monday's 9-6 win over Oakland (12-8).

"I've been feeling good on the road, too, but I just love hitting here," Napoli said. "You've got the wall right there and you can get away with some stuff that you don't necessarily have to hit it so good. Sometimes you can hit a pop fly that would be an out at some other parks and it goes off the wall."

An All-Star as a catcher with Texas last year, Napoli has homered in each of the last two games, totaling five hits with seven RBIs.

He homered on three of his five hits over his past five meetings with the A's and is 3 for 8 versus Bartolo Colon, their scheduled starter for Tuesday.

While Napoli is looking to continue swinging a hot bat, Will Middlebrooks hopes that he's snapped out of his funk after hitting a three-run shot Monday. The third baseman had a .093 average with one RBI over the previous 11 games.

Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 6.28 ERA) is staying in the rotation while John Lackey rehabs a right biceps strain in the minors.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts, winning 6-3 at Cleveland on Wednesday. He threw five scoreless innings before giving up three runs and two homers while getting pulled before managing an out in the sixth.

"My fastball, curveball, cutter, changeup, they were real good," Aceves told the team's official website.

He's 3-1 with a 5.17 ERA in nine games - all out of the bullpen - against Oakland, going 2-0 while yielding one run in eight innings over three meetings at Fenway.

The A's are struggling during a four-game slide, batting .175 with 10 runs after hitting .289 and averaging 6.8 runs during a 12-2 run.

Playing outside of the AL West is proving to be a challenge. The A's are 11-2 with a .291 average within the division compared to batting .174 with a 1-6 record versus other teams.

Colon (2-0, 3.32) is trying to beat the Red Sox for the first time since Aug. 18, 2005, with the Los Angeles Angels. Since then, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA in four games - three starts - against his former team.

Colon spent an injury-plagued 2008 with Boston, as a back problem limited him to seven starts. That was also the last time he started a season with three straight winning decisions.

All three of his starts this season have ended in Oakland victories, and they've registered as quality outings. His latest performance was his best yet, as he tossed six innings while yielding one run and two hits in Wednesday's 7-5 win over Houston.

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