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BOS@MIA: Doubront fans nine over seven innings

Neither the Marlins nor the Red Sox expected to be hovering around .500 at this point in the season. Yet with Miami one game below the mark and Boston one game above it entering Wednesday's contest, the Marlins at least seem to be acknowledging their shortcomings, while the Red Sox continue to refute suggested reasons for their struggles.

Even after putting up five runs in Tuesday's loss, the Marlins are still averaging just two runs per game over their last 13 contests, during which they are 2-11. As a result of that skid, Ozzie Guillen's club has dropped below .500 for the first time since May 5, and has fallen from a first-place tie in the National League East on June 3 to fourth entering Wednesday's action.

"Offensively, we're not doing [anything] very positive right now," Guillen said Tuesday before his team put up more than four runs for the first time during the dismal 13-game stretch. "Everything we do is just ... I don't remember us hitting the ball hard. When that happens, when your offense is shut down the way we are right now, it's going to be hard to win some games.

"Even [with] how bad we are playing, we are still in good position. Hopefully those guys start swinging the bat like we know they can do, and that can help the pitching staff."

As for the Red Sox, they spent Tuesday denying the notion that troubles within the clubhouse could be contributing to the team's 34-33 record. Manager Bobby Valentine, and a few Sox players, vehemently refuted an ESPN blog by national baseball writer Buster Olney that claimed the Boston clubhouse was "toxic."

"Completely fabricated," said Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett. "I don't know where people get that from. I think people want that to be the case and I just don't think it is. I think this is probably one of the tightest-knit groups I've ever been a part of, with dinners on the road, a couple family trips here this last time.

"We do a lot of stuff together. There's a good continuity here. I think there are certain people, they want it to be that way, and so they report it that way. It's just not like that at all."

Toxic clubhouse or not, the Red Sox have won five of their last six and will look to clinch their third straight series victory Wednesday when they send Felix Doubront to the hill. Doubront's last start also came against the Marlins, as the lefty led the way to a 10-2 victory last Wednesday.

Doubront held the Marlins hitless over the first 5 2/3 innings and ultimately allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings, while tying a season high with nine strikeouts.

"With the stuff's he's got, he's up there with CC [Sabathia] and Jonny [Lester] and all those guys, as far as left-handed pitchers go," Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I think he just needs to stay healthy. That's the biggest thing for him. He's done a great job of keeping his body in shape. You've seen what he's doing."

Marlins: Nolasco looking to continue road success
The Marlins will call on Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday night, as the right-hander will look to build on his success away from Marlins Park.

Nolasco is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in six road starts, compared to just 2-4 in his seven home outings with an ERA at 5.40. Opponents are hitting .290 against Nolasco at Marlins Park, but just .252 when the hurler takes the mound at another stadium.

Red Sox: Ross returns, Podsednik to DL
Outfielder Cody Ross homered in his return to the Red Sox lineup Wednesday, his first game action since May 19. Ross had been sidelined with a fractured navicular bone in his left foot.

"It feels great," Ross said before going 1-for-3 with the solo shot. "I'm really excited. Obviously it's been, I think, a month to the day or maybe a couple of days, but I'm just looking forward to getting back out there and helping the guys win and getting back on track."

The day wasn't such a good one for Scott Podsednik, who landed on the disabled list with a mild left groin strain. Podsednik is hitting .387 with one homer, seven RBIs and six stolen bases in 19 games.

Worth noting
• The Red Sox have taken two of three from the Marlins in each of the last eight meetings. The Marlins won the inaugural series in 1997, but have lost each of the eight series since.

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