Angels-Red Sox Preview

If Mike Napoli could face his former team more often, he might have avoided going through an early season slump.

The Boston first baseman will try to continue to pester the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday while leading the Red Sox to their first series victory at home this month.

Napoli was batting .178 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 36 games before this series but showed signs that he was perhaps ready to break out this past week. He went 4 for 12 with a home run in three contests against Texas and has followed with three more longballs against Los Angeles (22-21). He had a pair in an 8-3 win Saturday that ended a three-game losing streak for Boston (20-23).

Napoli, who played his first five seasons with the Angels, is batting .327 with 17 homers and 32 RBIs in 46 games against them. His .716 slugging percentage and 1.163 OPS are the best all-time marks against Los Angeles among qualifying players.

"It's been impressive to see what he's done against that team," manager John Farrell said. "I think more importantly for us, he's on time. It's more consistent than what we've seen in a number of years from Nap."

The Red Sox will next try to win a home series for the first time since taking two of three from Toronto from April 27-29. They had lost eight of 10 at Fenway Park before Saturday.

The Angels, winners in 11 of 17, will send out Hector Santiago (3-2, 2.25 ERA) as they try to finish with a winning record on a 10-game trip. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in his last three starts and 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA in his last seven.

Santiago yielded two runs in seven innings Tuesday in a 3-2 win at Toronto.

"What Hector is doing is really impressive. He's staying away of a lot of the trouble he got into last year," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB's official website. "He's able to command the ball better. And he has good stuff. He has the stuff to pitch out of jams, and he's done it."

Santiago is 0-2 with a 3.45 ERA in three career starts against Boston and pitched six scoreless innings Aug. 10 in his lone matchup last season.

Wade Miley (3-4, 5.10) will attempt to capture his third consecutive win after losing in three straight starts. The left-hander, owner of a 1.32 ERA in his past two outings, gave up two runs in seven innings and struck out seven in a 4-3 win over Texas on Tuesday.

Miley will face the Angels for the first time. David Freese and Chris Iannetta are among the three Los Angeles players to have batted against him with each going 3 for 5.

Iannetta did not play Saturday after hitting a three-run homer in a 12-5 victory Friday, Los Angeles' fifth in a row against the Red Sox. He is 9 for 21 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last six games.

Napoli is 0 for 4 with three strikeouts against Santiago but has walked five times. Dustin Pedroia has three doubles in seven at-bats versus Santiago and Shane Victorino is 2 for 2.

It's unclear if Victorino will play after leaving Saturday with an ailing left calf.


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