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New Position, Same Result

Middlebrooks Remains Hot With Bat as Red Sox Cruise

Boston Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits a two-run single off of San Francisco Giants pitcher Michael Kickham during the seventh inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. The Red Sox won 12-1. At bottom are Giants catcher Buster Posey and umpire Dan Bellino. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Boston Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits a two-run single off of San Francisco Giants pitcher Michael Kickham during the seventh inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. The Red Sox won 12-1. At bottom are Giants catcher Buster Posey and umpire Dan Bellino. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco — Will Middlebrooks made his major league debut at second base on a day he continued to produce with his bat. That might be a message.

Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew each hit a home run, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in two runs apiece and the Boston Red Sox beat the San Francisco Giants 12-1 on Wednesday.

“It was a good offensive day,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We had good production up and down. Will has been swinging the bat well since he’s come back to us.”

Middlebrooks has reached base in all 11 games since his recall from Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting safely in 10 of them. Farrell said he could be used at second in case anything ever happened to Dustin Pedroia.

In his first appearance at second at any level, Middlebrooks even turned a nifty double play on his first chance, taking the throw from Drew and making the pivot at second.

“That came out of nowhere,” Middlebrooks said. “We haven’t talked about it. I haven’t worked out there. It was a lot of fun, though.”

Felix Doubront (9-6) rebounded from a tough outing to pitch eight strong innings for the Red Sox, who have won three of five and entered play in a virtual first-place tie with Tampa Bay in the AL East. Doubront gave up one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out three.

“I spent the last four days working on throwing the ball down in the zone,” Doubront said. “I was able to do that and go with my stuff. I was working fast to get the hitters to swing at my pitch.”

Joaquin Arias homered among his two hits for the Giants, who have lost three of four.

Barry Zito (4-9) lasted 3 2∕ 3 innings in his first start since July 30. He allowed six runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out three.

“We didn’t play well at all,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re having a hard time with the bats here. It’s got to get better with the pitching side and the hitting side.”

Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino each had three hits for Boston, with Victorino driving in a run. Ellsbury scored twice and got his league-leading 46th stolen base. Pedroia added two hits and drove in a run.

“Any time you get hits out of the top of the lineup good things can happen,” Victorino said. “We just have to keep it going.”

Doubront, who allowed seven runs in four innings in his last start, has allowed three runs or fewer in 17 of his last 18 outings. After giving up Arias’ homer in the second, Doubront retired 14 of the next 15 hitters.

“Felix was awesome,” Middlebrooks said. “I don’t think he missed his spot all day. Even the home run was a good pitch.”

Middlebrooks hit a two-run home run with two outs in the second and Doubront on deck.

“I was surprised,” Middlebrooks said. “He went fastball away and I thought he would stay away. He left a slider up in the zone and I put a good swing on it.”

Since his recall, Middlebrooks is hitting .441 (15 for 34) with a pair of home runs, seven RBIs and seven walks. He’s improved his average to .228 from a season-low .192 when he was sent down.

“I feel comfortable,” said Middlebrooks, who also hit safely in his final eight games with the PawSox. “I haven’t really changed my approach, I’m just more consistent with it.”

The Giants have allowed 10 runs or more in four interleague games, their most in any season.

“I was excited to get the ball,” Zito said. “Some strange stuff happened out there today. Baseball is a strange game sometimes. The nature of the game is so unpredictable. That’s why we all love it and why we all hate it.”

Zito, the 2002 Cy Young winner, is 0-25 in 29 games in which he has allowed six or more runs in a San Francisco uniform. He never allowed more than six runs in a game with the Oakland Athletics.

Notes: Doubront has given up one run in 15 innings against the NL West. ... Red Sox INF David Ortiz left the game with lower back tightness after striking out in the fifth. ... RHP John Lackey (8-10, 3.22 ERA) will start for Boston when it opens a series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Friday night. ... Zito owns a career mark of 5-7, with a 5.52 ERA, in 15 games against the Red Sox. ... Ellsbury has hit safely in all 18 of Boston’s interleague games and is batting .442 (34 for 77) against NL clubs.