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Rangers-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

While their bullpen delivered another solid performance, the defending World Series champions showed signs of coming out of their early season slumber at the plate.

The Texas Rangers are hoping to put an end to their offensive struggles that have led to a rough start on the road.

The Boston Red Sox will try to build on a late scoring outburst and take the first two games of the three-game set while dealing the Rangers their fourth loss in five games Tuesday night.

After hitting .202 - including 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position - while totaling eight runs over its previous three games, Boston (3-4) scored twice in the first seven innings Monday before breaking out with three runs in the eighth of a 5-1 win.

Former Texas catchers Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski had three hits apiece as the Red Sox snapped a three-game skid in the series opener. Napoli has gone 6 for 14 in his last three games, while Pierzynski broke out of a season-opening 2 for 16 slump.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3 for 4 with two RBIs after going 3 for 12 in his first five games. He also made a couple of outstanding catches in right field.

"We go out to win every single night," manager John Farrell told the league's official website. "And the last three days have been less than we expected. I thought we executed very well (Monday)."

Relievers Chris Capuano and Koji Uehara each worked a scoreless frame after John Lackey pitched seven strong innings. Aside from a poor showing against Milwaukee on Friday, the Boston bullpen has allowed one run while striking out 26 over 18 innings.

Now the Red Sox hope to continue taking advantage of a scuffling Texas offense that has batted .227 with one home run and scored nine runs during a 1-3 start to its six-game trip. Adrian Beltre has gone 1 for 13 on the road, while Prince Fielder 4 for 28 overall with the Rangers (3-4).

"We had some situations where we could have broken through, but couldn't get the base hits," manager Ron Washington said Monday.

Boston's Felix Doubront (1-0, 5.06 ERA) allowed three runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 4-3 victory at Baltimore on Thursday. The left-hander went 6-4 with a 3.45 ERA in 14 home starts in 2013, limiting opponents to three runs or less in 12 of those outings.

Although he's 0-3 with an 11.40 ERA in six career games versus the Rangers, Doubront has managed to shut down Alex Rios (1 for 9) and J.P. Arencibia (2 for 12). Newcomers Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo have gone a combined 0 for 10 in the matchup.

Rios has been a bright spot so far, going 10 for 26 while hitting safely in all seven games.

Texas left-hander Martin Perez (0-0, 3.18) gave up two runs over 5 2-3 innings last Tuesday before Beltre singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth for a 3-2 home win over Philadelphia. He had seven strikeouts through five shutout innings but didn't make it through the sixth, giving up hits to four of the six batters he faced.

In his only start against the Red Sox, Perez did not get a decision as he allowed one run over six innings in a 2-1 home loss July 24, 2012.

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