The thin rotation, big bats and tiny park of the Boston Red Sox have combined to create the perfect home for a sinkerball pitcher needing a new start after a shaky rookie year.

John Dopson scattered three hits over six innings Sunday afternoon to lead the Red Sox to a 9-5 triumph over the Texas Rangers.Dopson, traded in the offseason from Montreal, already has topped his victory total of last year by improving to 4-1 for a team whose traditional concern is pitching.

Dopson was 3-11 for Montreal last year, but the Expos scored two runs or less in nine of his 11 starts. With the Red Sox, he is supported by the American League's most productive lineup.

Nick Esasky and Wade Boggs homered for the Red Sox on Sunday, and shortstop Jody Reed went 2 for 4 with two RBI.

"This team is so explosive, all I have to do is given them six or seven innings of good work and we'll win," Dopson said.

Dopson struck out two and walked five in six innings. Lee Smith notched the final out to record his fourth save of the season. Smith came on after Texas scored its final run off reliever Bob Stanley.

"He (Dopson) has his good sinker working and give him credit because all he did today was get us out," Texas' Rafael Palmeiro said.

Dopson's success - he's tied with Roger Clemens for the team lead in victories - has helped offset the free-agent defection of Bruce Hurst and the disabling blood clot injury that robbed the staff of Oil Can Boyd.

"I feel a lot better now," Dopson said. "I'm not nervous anymore."

The Red Sox have won three straight games, while Texas has dropped four in a row - the Rangers' longest losing streak of the season.