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Orioles-Red Sox Preview

AP - Sports

The Boston Red Sox have shown early this season they can win with big performances at the plate. In their last game, they proved they're not just a potent offensive lineup.

After pulling out a win despite a subpar offensive showing, the Red Sox look to clinch their third consecutive winning series to open the season as they continue a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Boston (5-2) averaged 8.5 runs and batted .335 in its first four wins, totaling eight home runs and 11 doubles. The Red Sox couldn't muster that kind of offense in Monday's five-hit performance against Baltimore, but still managed a 3-1 victory behind Clay Buchholz's pitching. Daniel Nava's three-run homer in the seventh powered Boston to its ninth straight home-opening win.

"This team is growing in confidence by the day," said first-year Red Sox manager John Farrell, whose team has started 2013 with series wins against the New York Yankees and Toronto.

While the Red Sox were encouraged by the victory, the Orioles (3-4) refused to make too much of their third straight defeat. Each of Baltimore's first three losses came by one run before Monday's two-run setback.

"We might spend all day tomorrow crying as a team, holding each other's hands, spend all day walking through the Prudential Center (in Boston) crying," outfielder Adam Jones said sarcastically. "We're playing good baseball. We've got 155 games to go, a lot of games to go."

Baltimore was limited to season lows in runs and hits (five) Monday, but still rank among major league leaders with a .283 team batting average and 38 runs scored.

"We didn't do much offensively," manager Buck Showalter said. "Seven games into the season, no one's concerned."

The Orioles will try to bounce back against Ryan Dempster (0-1, 5.40 ERA), making his first home start for Boston after signing a two-year, $26.5 million contract in December. The veteran right-hander has a 6.06 ERA in three career starts at Fenway Park, but gave up no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings there last season, his only appearance at Fenway since 2001.

Dempster had command issues in his season debut, giving up three runs and five hits while walking four in a 4-2 road loss to the Yankees on Thursday.

Dempster is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles. He held them to one run and four hits in eight innings of a 5-1 victory Aug. 20.

Baltimore outfielder Nate McLouth is 6 for 20 (.300) with a home run, two doubles and three walks against Dempster, but shortstop J.J. Hardy is just 2 for 27 with seven strikeouts.

Baltimore's Jake Arrieta (0-0, 9.00) will take the mound for his second start. The right-hander gave up five runs in five innings of his 2013 debut Friday, but Baltimore scored five in the eighth and beat Minnesota 9-5.

Arrieta is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in five career games – four starts – against the Red Sox, including 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA at Fenway Park.

Jacoby Ellsbury has two hits – both home runs – and two walks in five at-bats against Arrieta. Nava, who has homered in consecutive games and is 6 for 12 this season, is 3 for 5 with a homer and a walk against him.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is 1 for 9 with three strikeouts during Baltimore's three-game losing streak after going 9 for 15 with four home runs and three doubles during the club's 3-1 start.

The Red Sox activated Stephen Drew off the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday. He has yet to play this season after being hit in the helmet by a pitch March 7 in spring training.

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