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Sun, May 26, 2013 - 1:35 PM ET
 

Indians-Red Sox Preview

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With the Boston Red Sox lineup suddenly having injury problems, Dustin Pedroia is doing his part to keep the offense going strong.

The red-hot former MVP has been particularly impressive at Fenway Park and against the Cleveland Indians lately, trends he'll look to continue Sunday when the AL's wild-card leaders conclude their season series.

This four-game set marked Cleveland manager Terry Francona's return to Boston, and Pedroia helped it take a turn for the worse over the last two days with four hits and three RBIs in Red Sox victories. He had the go-ahead RBI double in a decisive four-run eighth inning of Saturday's 7-4 win.

The veteran second baseman is batting .406 in his last 17 games, recording at least a hit in all but one. He's driven in eight runs and scored eight over the past eight contests.

"He's a career hitter of over .300, so it's not like he's going to lack that consistency," manager John Farrell told the team's official website.

Pedroia has reached base more than half the time in his past 13 home games, batting .500 with seven walks. He has hit safely in all 14 games against the Indians since the start of last season, batting .411 with 14 RBIs.

He's a big reason Boston (30-20) has won 10 of 13 versus Cleveland (27-21), which has now failed to win eight straight series at Fenway.

''There were a couple of balls that were Fenway fly balls. I think the wind plays a factor, and The Wall. There's a lot of things going on out there," Francona said. "That's just a part of this ballpark.''

The Red Sox have 15 runs and 20 hits in two games since placing Shane Victorino (hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (back) on the disabled list. No other Boston lineup regular had been on the 15-day DL since David Ortiz returned April 20. Additionally, Stephen Drew may sit out Sunday due to back soreness.

Jose Iglesias has done a solid job filling in since being called up from the minors Friday. He singled and scored that night as he played third base, then had three hits and scored twice Saturday starting at shortstop.

The Indians' hottest hitters are Asdrubal Cabrera, 8 for 16 in the past four games, and Michael Brantley, batting .429 in his last seven.

Brantley was the only left-handed bat in Cleveland's lineup Saturday - Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis were used as pinch hitters - with Boston starting lefty Jon Lester. The Red Sox start another left-hander Sunday in Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.61 ERA).

He went 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA in four outings last month but has gone winless in four during May. However, since getting ripped for 12 runs and 23 hits over nine innings in the first two, he has given up four runs and eight hits in 11 innings.

"I think he's on to something with the adjustments he's made," Farrell said.

Doubront is 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA in three starts against the Indians, including a 7-2 victory April 16 when he gave up two runs in five innings.

He'll be opposed by Corey Kluber (3-3, 5.19). The right-hander is coming off back-to-back quality starts but has gone 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA this month.

Kluber struggled in one inning of relief against Boston this year, giving up a run and three hits in a 6-3 loss April 17. His only start versus the Red Sox remains the shortest of his career, going 3 1-3 innings and yielding six runs in a 14-1 defeat Aug. 12.

It seems unlikely he'll provide much of a break for a Cleveland bullpen which has worked 23 2-3 innings in six games this week. The Indians have lost four of five as their relievers have compiled an 8.10 ERA.

Tagged: Red Sox, Indians, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Brantley

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