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BAL@BOS: Valentine breaks down Lester's outing

The road has not been kind to the Mariners this season.

Seattle has lost eight of its last nine games away from home, despite a 6-2 win over the Yankees on Sunday. And the Mariners' four-city, 10-game road trip doesn't get any easier when the club begins a two-game series with the Red Sox on Monday at Fenway Park.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge believes the inconsistencies of his youthful team have lead to Seattle's road woes.

"That's just the way it is," Wedge said. "We just have to stick with these guys and help them grind through it and get to where they're consistent both home and away. This is a tough road trip for us, a lot of travel, some good clubs that we're playing, some veteran baseball clubs. So it's a good test for us. A good education."

By the end of this trip, Seattle will have played 28 of its first 43 games on the road, including the first two in Tokyo.

The Red Sox are rolling and enter Monday's game with a three-game win streak. Boston pounded out 12 hits en route to a 12-1 victory over Cleveland on Sunday to win the four-game series, 3-1.

"We feed off the fans, and when they're out there screaming and yelling for us it's addicting, you're going to get pumped up and get some more runs in," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit a two-run homer Sunday.

Left-hander Jon Lester gets the ball for home team looking to continue a string of strong performances from the Boston rotation. A victory on Monday would be the fourth straight for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Boston entered its current six-game homestand with four home wins all season.

Lester allowed four runs on six hits in five innings in his last outing on May 9, taking the loss against Kansas City. He did not pitch against Seattle in 2011, but is 2-2 against the Mariners with a 3.97 ERA in seven career starts.

The southpaw is one-third of an inning shy of 1,000 for his career, all with Boston. He would be the 41st pitcher to reach that plateau as a member of the Red Sox and the first since Josh Beckett did so June 9, 2011.

Mariners: Vargas out to good start
Lefty Jason Vargas takes the mound Monday, and he's been strong all season, including eight innings of one-run ball in his last start against Detroit on May 9.

"My fastball was in the strike zone and my changeup was better than it's been in a long time," Vargas said. "I feel like when I got that combination, I'm going to be OK."

Vargas has mixed in a good changeup to go with his fastball this year, resulting in a career-low 0.97 WHIP. He's 4-2 this season with a 2.79 ERA in eight starts.

The southpaw will make his fourth career start against Boston. He's 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA vs. the Red Sox.

Red Sox: Middlebrooks swinging hot bat
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks has nine extra-base hits in his first 10 Major League games, the most since Cincinnati's Chris Dickerson in 2008.

Filling in for the injured Kevin Youkilis (strained lower back), Middlebrooks has played well in the field and at the plate. The rookie smashed a solo home run over the Green Monster on Sunday, his fourth homer since joining Boston on May 2. He added an RBI single in the first inning and finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored.

Youkilis is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list Monday, but Middlebrooks has made a case to remain in the lineup. He is batting .310 with 13 RBIs, the most by a Boston player in his first 10 games since 1918.

"Just trying to contribute any way I can," Middlebrooks said. "Just trying to help this team win, that's the biggest priority."

Worth noting
• Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley has a nine-game hit streak.

• Boston leads the Majors with 100 doubles, including a MLB-best 63 at home.

• Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has a 14-game hit streak, the longest active streak in the Majors.

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