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Red Sox enjoying hot start to second half

Red Sox enjoying hot start to second half

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are playing some of their best baseball of the season coming out of the All-Star break, winning both series and going 5-2 in seven games.

It started on the road against the Rays, with the Sox taking two out of three games at Tropicana Field. Returning to Fenway Park on Monday to open a seven-game homestand, Boston won three out of four against the White Sox.

So far, it's been a team effort. And it doesn't hurt that Boston welcomed back Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list all in the last week.

"We're finally getting healthy, our lineup top to bottom is as good as there is in the game," said outfielder Cody Ross, who has nine RBIs in his last two games. "Guys are getting on base, and that puts pressure on the opposing team. So hopefully we can keep rolling."

Thursday's 3-1 win over Chicago marked the first time this season Boston's lineup featured Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia. It's not all about them, though. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has five straight multi-hit games, and Ross had three homers in his last two games entering Friday.

"When you look up and down our lineup there's a threat at every spot as far as getting on base, stealing a base, hitting a home run or just creating runs," Ross said. "It's a good feeling to have and a luxury."

The Red Sox have also benefited from strong starting pitching to begin the second half of the season. In four out of five wins, Boston has gotten a quality start.

"I think now they're healthy and they're feeling good about themselves, and I think that's a good way to get on a roll," said manager Bobby Valentine.