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Boston Red Sox shift into recovery mode against Miami Marlins

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Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout as his team plays the Washington Nationals on July 6 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

What a perfect time for the Boston Red Sox to have a day off.

Their weekend in St. Petersburg, not only disaster in terms of suffering their first series sweep of the season, was made worse by the New York Yankees sweeping four games in Baltimore to close the gap in the American League East.

Three games on Players' Weekend, three losses by a combined count of 24-5.

"Sometimes you go through tough times," Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez said after Sunday's 9-1 blowout at the hands of the upstart Rays. "Off-day tomorrow and start all over again.

"This happens in a long season. We know it's not going to be easy all the way through. At some point, you're going to have tough times. It was a very tough week for us. Turn the page and keep going. We're in first place for a reason."

Now losers of five of the last seven games, the Red Sox are home for a quick pair against the lowly Miami Marlins before heading back out on the road. Boston left-hander Brian Johnson faces the recently suspended Jose Urena in the opener Tuesday night.

The Red Sox swept two games from the Marlins in Miami as part of a nine-game winning streak and 17-2 start to open the season. Johnson won one of those games and Urena pitched a strong game in a no-decision in the other.

Johnson is 4-3 with a 4.12 ERA overall but 4-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 starts (the team is 8-2 in those 10 starts). He gave up one run in six innings in the early appearance at Miami.

Urena, suspended for six games after hitting Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr., pitched a complete-game two-hitter against the Washington Nationals before serving his suspension. He comes off the suspension to pitch and brings a 4-12 record and 4.50 ERA into the game.

After the right-hander dropped his appeal, manager Don Mattingly, who criticized Urena for throwing at Acuna on the first pitch of a game after the Atlanta rookie had hit four homers in three games against Miami, said, "It makes sense from our standpoint. Obviously, Jose had to make his decision. I think he made a good decision, getting this thing on the back side of him, and working toward the rest of the year.

"He wasn't going to participate in the series coming up, so there was no reason to prolong this."

The Marlins come into this game 53-72, but have split their last 10 games.

Mattingly returns to the park where he did so many good things during his playing career. He hit .313 with four homers and 30 RBIs in 65 games (58 starts) at Fenway, .292 with 11 homers and 79 RBIs overall against the Red Sox.

Obviously, his bat can't help in this series -- as the Red Sox look to shake off their miserable weekend and get back on track.

The Sox were swept for the first time in almost exactly a year -- when they were outscored 25-4 in the first Players' Weekend, that one at Fenway.

"Just a bad weekend," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "That's it. They're playing great baseball. They play great here. They've done this to some good teams. It was just a bad weekend in (St. Petersburg). Day off tomorrow and we'll get them Tuesday."

J.D. Martinez, the subject of triple crown talk through much of the season, has overtaken teammate Mookie Betts for the American League batting lead (.337 to .335). He is second to Khris Young in home runs (39/38) and leads in RBIs (110).

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Boston Red Sox shift into recovery mode against Miami Marlins
Boston Red Sox shift into recovery mode against Miami Marlins
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