Athletics-Red Sox Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- David Ortiz just concluded the best April of his career, and that's a big reason for the Boston Red Sox's impressive surge.
That may just continue against the Oakland Athletics.
Ortiz looks to continue his torrid start as the Red Sox seek their eighth win in nine games against the A's on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Ortiz hit .405 with six homers and 20 RBIs in April for the highest average by a member of the Red Sox (11-11) in the opening month since Manny Ramirez hit .408 in 2001.
That's a vast improvement for Ortiz, who is a career .267 hitter in April.
"With this weather, yes," Ortiz said, without hesitation when asked if it's the best he's felt this early into a season. "You try to work on something you haven't done in five months."
The designated hitter continued his success at the plate Monday, belting a pair of solo homers to help Boston to an 11-6 win over Oakland (11-13) in the opener of this three-game set.
Ortiz's hot bat has keyed a 7-1 surge for the Red Sox after they won four of their first 14.
"David's the star of star's right now," manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's hitting to all fields. It's hard to get a strike by him. The swing is probably as good as it can get."
It's certainly been good at Fenway, where Ortiz is batting .543 with four homers and 12 RBIs this season. He's been just as productive against the A's, going 19 for 33 (.576) with four home runs and nine RBIs in his last nine games.
Boston has won seven of eight against Oakland, batting .314 with 15 homers while averaging 7.1 runs.
The Red Sox would be even stronger offensively Tuesday if Kevin Youkilis returns. The third baseman, who sat out the last two games with tightness in his lower back, is batting .395 in his past nine home meetings with Oakland.
Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.09 ERA) has been getting plenty of help from Ortiz and the rest of the lineup recently, receiving nine runs in each of his last two starts.
The left-hander benefited from that support while battling through six innings and a career-high 110 pitches in a 10-3 win at Chicago on Thursday. He allowed three runs and five hits with three walks in six innings.
Oakland, trying to avoid a season-high four-game slide, has struggled to limit opponents recently. The pitching staff has a 9.25 ERA over the past three games, serving up six homers - including four Monday.
Jarrod Parker (0-0, 1.42) is scheduled to make his third major league start after an impressive AL debut Wednesday. The right-hander, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona, allowed one run and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 5-4, 14-inning win over the White Sox.
"You look at the stuff, and there's a big reason why we traded who we traded for him," manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website. "We feel like he's well on his way."
Josh Reddick was another offseason acquisition, moving to Oakland in the five-player deal that sent closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox. The right fielder is 9 for 22 with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs in his last five games. That's a marked improvement from his previous six contests when he was 3 for 25.
Reddick was with Boston from 2009-11.
Updated May 1, 2012