Napoli flexes power at opportune time

BOSTON -- Mike Napoli hit his home run over the Red Sox bullpen. Dustin Pedroia hit his just inside the Pesky Pole. The difference between the drives was just more than 30 yards, the length of a downfield Tom Brady pass: 324 feet for Pedroia, 416 feet for Napoli, as measured by ESPN Stats & Information.

Not that the slugging first baseman would mention anything like that to his bearded little buddy.

“David Ross let him hear about it in the dugout,’’ Napoli said.

“But it doesn’t matter if it goes right over the fence or you hit it far.’’

It had been a little while since Napoli had hit one over a fence, near or far. He had gone his last 10 games without an extra-base hit, though 8 singles and 10 walks in that span had allowed him to keep the line moving at an impressive rate, as his .409 on-base percentage would attest.

But with Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino on the disabled list, the Sox had hit just three home runs in their last seven games, one each by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ortiz and Mike Carp. This was their first multi-homer game since May 19 in Minnesota, when Middlebrooks and Pedroia both went deep. The Sox are 10-5 in games in which they hit two or more home runs.

So when Pedroia hooked his drive inside the right-field foul pole, and Napoli cleared the bullpen, both in the first inning off Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd, it was a welcome sight. Napoli also doubled in a run in the third, giving him two RBIs for the night, his first multi-RBI night since May 1, when he homered twice, doubled and drove in four runs in a 10-1 win at Toronto.

“Lately I’ve been taking a lot of pitches, not being aggressive,’’ said Napoli, who shares the team lead in home runs with Middlebrooks and Ortiz, all with 8. “I was just trying to be aggressive. It felt good in BP today, and I tried to take that into the game.’’