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Red Sox hand Padres another setback

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BOSTON (AP) - Dustin Pedroia has been in the heart of Boston's batting order during its strong start. His play was on the mind of San Diego manager Bud Black before the game.

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Pedroia hit a two-run double to jump-start Boston's 18-hit effort, David Ortiz had a two-run single and the Red Sox wrapped up a big homestand by beating San Diego 8-2 Thursday, sending the Padres to their season-high sixth straight loss.

``He's been in the middle of this offense from Day One and continues to be so,'' Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Pedroia, who raised his average to .325 by going 2 for 4.

Brandon Snyder and Jacoby Ellsbury each had solo homers for the Red Sox. Boston went 8-1 at Fenway Park to match its best homestand since June 2010.

The Red Sox also won for the 12th time in its last 14 games at home. The AL East leaders improved to 19 games over .500 (53-34).

Sitting in his uncomfortably warm office about two hours before the game, Black praised the play of Pedroia. It didn't take long for the Red Sox second baseman to make him look good.

``Pedroia might be the MVP of the league so far. I think you can make a case for it,'' he said.

Pedroia's two-run double in the first moved Boston ahead 2-0. Ellsbury singled leading off to extend his season-high hitting streak to 14 games and Shane Victorino doubled off the Green Monster before Pedroia doubled into the left-field corner.

``What we're seeing of late is he's starting to pull the ball,'' Farrell said. ``It's a byproduct of getting pitched in a little more because he's gotten so many hits the other way. We know that when either an offspeed pitch stays in the middle of the plate or a fastball's in the inner part of the plate, he's always been a dead-pull hitter in those locations of pitches.''

The 2008 AL MVP just feels like he's taking a simple approach each time he steps to the plate.

``I feel good,'' he said. ``It depends if the ball's in. I'm trying to hit the ball where it's pitched. If I'm pulling the ball, it means they're throwing it in a little more. That's it.''

The Padres have scored just seven runs in their losing streak. They also lost for the 10th time in 12 games.

``They know what's ahead of them. They know what the challenge is,'' Black said after the game. ``This is the part of the season, part of the summer where it's hot, it's hot for everybody. You've got to keep pushing through. We were swept in this series. We've swept some teams to get back in the race in the west, but our guys know what's in front of them.''

Allen Webster (1-2) pitched six innings for his first major league win, allowing two runs and five hits, while walking four and striking out two.

Chase Headley didn't feel like the slump has been that bad despite the team scoring two or fewer nine of the last 12 games.

``I think it's looked worse than it has been,'' he said. ``We've had some at_bats in situations where we had a chance to drive in runs and the guys hit the ball hard and it just hasn't gone in the hole for us. Obviously it's disappointing when you put one, two runs up on the board for an extended period of time. I think as a group, I don't think it's maybe as far off as it looks.''

The Red Sox open a three-city, 10-game West Coast trip Friday night in Anaheim against the Angels.

Eric Stults (6-7) gave up four runs and nine hits over 4 1-3 innings without walking or striking out a batter. He was tagged for seven runs - six earned - in 3 2-3 innings in his previous start Saturday in a loss at Miami after giving up two runs or less in his previous six.

In the second, Snyder homered into Boston's bullpen to make it 3-0. Ortiz's bases-loaded, two-run single off reliever Tyson Ross in the sixth gave the Red Sox a comfortable 7-2 lead.

Ellsbury homered over the bullpens to make it 8-2.

Headley's sacrifice fly had cut it to 3-1 in the third before Jose Iglesias' run-scoring, ground-rule double pushed Boston's lead back to three an inning later.

The Padres sliced it to 4-2 in the fifth on Jesus Guzman's single high off the left-field wall - when he missed a homer by a couple of feet - but Webster got Mark Kotsay to line to left, ending the inning with two runners on.

Jonny Gomes' RBI single made it 5-2.

NOTES: Black said he expects SS Everth Cabrera, on the 15-day DL since June 19 with an injured left hamstring, to be activated when the club opens a three-game series against the Nationals on Friday night. ... Boston 1B Mike Napoli was back in the lineup after getting Wednesday night off. With a left-hander starting for San Diego, Gomes was also inserted into the lineup one day after hitting a game-ending homer in the ninth inning. ... Black also discussed options for his team's struggling offense. ``You have to try and do everything you can to get things going,'' he said, saying they'd run and bunt with the right people. ``When you're not scoring things look a little flat. As people in the game know, that happens everywhere. When you score, sometimes you score in bunches and you lose and the pitching wasn't solid, but you're playing hard. We're playing hard, but we're just not scoring runs.'' ... Farrell said he hopes SS Stephen Drew, sidelined since last Friday after aggravating his right hamstring, will be back in the lineup Saturday. ... The gametime temperature was 91.

AP NEWS
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