Red Sox-Orioles Preview

The Associated Press

Mike Napoli's return paid immediate dividends for the Boston Red Sox, providing some hope they can find more consistency after a volatile few weeks.

Getting Jake Peavy back on track would certainly help that cause, and he'll take the mound Monday night when the Red Sox open a three-game road series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Napoli was 3 for 4 with his sixth home run in Sunday's 5-3 win in Detroit. He hadn't played for Boston since May 23 due to a sprained finger.

The cleanup hitter's biggest contribution may have been his presence in the on-deck circle when David Ortiz hit a go-ahead three-run homer off Joba Chamberlain in the ninth.

"They wouldn't have thrown one near the strike zone if that dude (Napoli) wasn't standing on deck," said John Lackey, who allowed two earned runs over eight innings.

Napoli is 9 for 27 with seven RBIs over his last seven contests in Baltimore, and Ortiz has hit .412 in his last eight games against the Orioles.

Brock Holt is batting .421 during an eight-game hitting streak after going 4 for 5 on Sunday, when the Red Sox (28-34) snapped a five-game skid. They had previously won seven straight following a 10-game losing streak.

Peavy (1-3, 4.72 ERA) is on quite a slide of his own with an 0-3 record in his last seven starts, his longest winless streak since an eight-start drought in 2006. He's been particularly bad in the last five with a 7.04 ERA.

He was charged with five runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.

"Just seems like it's been the story of my last month," he told the team's official website. "It's awfully tough losing."

Facing Baltimore may not cure Peavy's woes. He gave up five runs and 10 hits with four walks over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 win over the Orioles on April 20, though he didn't receive a decision. The right-hander had been 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in his previous three matchups with them.

Baltimore (31-30) has dropped three of four since a four-game winning streak with Sunday's 11-1 home loss to Oakland marking the club's most lopsided defeat this season.

Manny Machado could face a suspension after being the focal point of the teams' second bench-clearing scuffle in three days. Both clubs emptied onto the field after Machado's bat flew down the third-base line following an inside pitch from Fernando Abad. Machado and Abad were both ejected, though the Orioles third baseman maintained that the bat simply slipped out of his hands.

The Orioles' rotation might be a bigger concern, posting a 7.80 ERA over the last five games while issuing 11 walks in 21 2-3 innings.

"You just can't compete, especially against a team like that, walking too many people," manager Buck Showalter told the team's official website after Ubaldo Jimenez walked five and allowed six runs in 2 1-3 innings Sunday.

Bud Norris (4-5, 4.41) has issued 15 walks over his last six outings and hasn't had a quality start in three straight, posting a 6.88 ERA but winning twice. He's 0-2 with a 4.56 ERA in four starts versus Boston, allowing four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 road defeat April 19.

Though Boston took four of the season's first seven meetings, Baltimore's Nelson Cruz had three homers and nine RBIs while Adam Jones was 11 for 27. While Cruz has gone a season-high five straight games without an RBI, Jones is batting .414 in seven games this month with three homers and nine RBIs.

Dustin Pedroia is batting .472 during a 12-game hitting streak against Baltimore.

Nick Markakis has hit safely in 13 straight overall.

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