Red Sox-White Sox Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox have slugged their way to their longest winning streak of the season, and at the center of that offensive barrage is Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

They'll try to continue their impressive stretches at the plate as the Red Sox go for their longest winning streak since July against the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.

Boston (8-10) has won four in a row following a five-game skid, and it's the team's bats that have led the way. The Red Sox are hitting .363 with 10 homers and 43 runs over the last five games after collecting 12 hits - including three homers - in Thursday's 10-3 rout of Chicago (10-9).

"The offense is playing extremely well," manager Bobby Valentine said. "A combined effort, no one trying to do too much. That's good offense. That's playing baseball the right way."

Youkilis, who was criticized by Valentine last week, has been a spark over the last three games, going 6 for 14 to raise his average from .174 to .241. He hit his second homer of the season Thursday - a grand slam in a five-run third inning.

"I'm having better at-bats and doing little things here and there," Youkilis said. "I look at it as a long season, and you're going to go through stuff. Hopefully, the bad at-bats are a thing of the past."

Saltalamacchia may be feeling the same way after going 10 for 21 with three homers and seven RBIs in his past five contests. He had a pair of home runs and three RBIs Thursday.

"(My swing) feels good right now," Saltalamacchia said. "Right now, I'm just trying to put good wood on the ball and stay consistent with my approach."

Saltalamacchia is 5 for 11 with three homers and six RBIs in his last three visits to U.S. Cellular Field.

Daniel Bard (1-2, 4.38 ERA) would appreciate continued production from the lineup. The right-hander has been backed by two total runs in 12 1-3 innings over three games - two starts - this season.

His last appearance came in relief Monday, when he got two outs in the eighth and was credited with a 6-5 win at Minnesota after losing his first two starts.

This will be Bard's first start against the White Sox. He's faced them eight times out of the bullpen, going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA while striking out 11 in 8 2-3 innings.

Thursday's loss was Chicago's third straight, matching a season high.

Paul Konerko had a pair of hits Thursday and is 5 for 9 with a homer and two RBIs in his last two games. He leads the team with a .365 average while adding four homers and 14 RBIs.

Konerko is 12 for 30 (.400) with four home runs and 13 RBIs in his last nine meetings with Boston.

John Danks (2-2, 5.11) is scheduled to take the mound looking to continue his success against the Red Sox. The left-hander has won three of his last four starts against them, posting a 2.88 ERA while fanning 21 in 25 innings.

He's also trying to break a trend of alternating wins and losses through four starts after earning a 7-4 win at Seattle on Sunday, allowing four runs in six innings.

Danks has been very good against Youkilis and Saltalamacchia, limiting them to a combined .238 average (5 for 21) with no homers.

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