Swinging hot bat, Salty catches Beckett

Swinging hot bat, Salty catches Beckett

PHILADELPHIA -- Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia got the start for the Red Sox on Sunday in a day game after a night game, and with a left-hander on the mound, for a straightforward reason: he's mashing.

"And Mike Aviles and Salty, it's the Mike and Salty show, huh?" manager Bobby Valentine said of his two hitters on a tear. "Back-to-back days. That's pretty good."

Two at-bats into Sunday's 5-1 win, Saltalamacchia hit a three-run homer to center, giving Boston a 5-0 lead against Cliff Lee and the Phillies through three innings. The rope cleared the seats and landed on the concourse for an estimated 466 feet -- farther than David Ortiz's shot to center Saturday in a 7-5 Sox win.

"I just made good contact with a 2-0 changeup," Saltalamacchia said. "I was able to put good wood on it. My only thought was man on third, need to get him in any way I can. It just worked in my favor."

Saltalamacchia normally hasn't started against lefties this season, but he's on a tear, with 11 knocks in 23 at-bats in his last six games, all of which included a hit. That's with four doubles and three home runs.

"Salty just feels really good," manager Bobby Valentine said before the game. "He and [Sunday starter Josh Beckett] had a good thing going last time, might as well ride that horse when he's feeling good."

Beckett had thrown primarily to Kelly Shoppach this season, but Beckett threw seven innings of shutout ball to Saltalamacchia one start before Sunday's. On Sunday, Beckett went 7 2/3 innings and let up just one run.

"He's doing a great job," Beckett said. "It's one of those deals where you're confident if you bounce a breaking ball that he's going to block it."

Saltalamacchia said before the last time he caught Beckett, on Tuesday, that he figured Valentine was going with a righty-lefty approach with he and Shoppach. That situation seems to have changed some.

"I don't know, this is just me: I think [Valentine is] starting to [have me] face righties, Shop faces lefties," Saltalamacchia said. "I think that's all it is."

Shoppach's health is fine, Valentine said.