Bats carry Sox to fourth straight win

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Bats carry Sox to fourth straight win

CHICAGO - A four-game road winning streak at their backs, the Red Sox are bashing teams into submission of late.
The Sox erupted for 10 runs Thursday night in the first game of a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox and have scored 34 runs in the last four games, an average of 8.5 runs per contest.
What's more, the Red Sox are scoring early. They've scored first in all four games on the trip, and in three of the games, they've scored in the first inning.
Thursday, en route to a 10-3 win, the Sox had a 7-1 lead by the third inning. The long ball accounted for seven of the 10 runs they scored.
What's more, they're getting contributions from two players -- Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- who weren't providing much at the plate through the first two or so weeks of the season.
Youkilis had a three-hit night, featuring the second grand slam of his career. Over the four games on the trip, he has six hits.
"I'm having better at-bats and doing little things here and there,'' said Youkilis. "I always look at it like it's a long season and you're going to go through stuff. Hopefully, the bad at-bats are a thing of the past and I can keep making strides going forward.''
Bobby Valentine, who was critical of Youkilis's performance two weeks ago, said it was a good sign that Youkilis's grand slam in the third went to the opposite field, a sign, the manager said, that he's starting to get locked in at the plate.
"Anytime I hit a home run is a good sign,'' said Youkilis. "I don't know if it's 'oppo,' or left field -- just taking goodswings and having good at-bats is the key to success. If you have good at-bats as many times as you can, good things will happen. Hitting to right field, left-center... I don't think that's a big deal as much as having great at-bats and putting them together.''
Saltalamacchia, who was hitting under .100 on the last homestand, hit two homers Thursday, giving him three in his last three games.
Over his last five games, the catcher is hitting .476 with two doubles, three homers and seven RBI over his last five games while lifting his average to a more respectable .261.
"Right now,'' said Saltalamacchia, "I'm just trying to put good wood on the ball and stay consistent with my approach. I feel good at the plate. My main focus is obviously trying to work with the pitchers and get us through the games. Those guys are working so hard that I want to be able to help them out as much as I can behind the plate and whatever I can do offensively helps.''

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.