Notes: Youkilis breaks Tropicana slump


Notes: Youkilis breaks Tropicana slump

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Kevin Youkilis had been hitless in his previous 15 at-bats at Tropicana Field when he walked to the plate in the seventh inning Wednesday night.

Dustin Pedroia had tripled before him and Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Youkilis to make amends.

Facing Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson, Youkilis "told myself to sit back and if he threw me a fastball, I was going to
turn on it and try to hit a ball to the outfield.

"I got a fastball again and I was fortunate to get a good piece of it and get it out of here."

Youkilis's homer went to left and emptied the bases. The runs would be the only runs of the night for either team, and the support was enough to get Josh Beckett a win.

It was even more gratifying to Youkilis that the Rays had walked Gonzalez in front of him.

"Oh yeah," he said. "It's not like they don't have respect for you or anything. It's just that the guy in front of you is hitting .350 and leading the league in RBI. You understand it, but I love the opportunity to go up there and help my team win."

It was Youkilis's 10th homer of the season and gave him 12 RBI in his last nine games.

Youkilis factored into another key part of the game, too -- on defense.

With two out in the third, Beckett threw Reid Brignac a changeup in the dirt. Somehow, Brignac golfed it to third, but Youkilis, swung around toward second on a lefthanded hitter, had to scurry just to field the slow roller.

Once he did, Brignac was well on his way to first. Youkilis made a throw to first, but it skipped and Gonzalez couldn't
dig it out cleanly.

"He got out of the box pretty quick," said Youkilis of Brignac. "Looking back now, if I had been playing in a whole different area, maybe (we could have gotten him). But I was over-shifted.''

After three days off, Jed Lowrie returned to the lineup Wednesay night, having gotten some rest for his left shoulder.

"It's not pain-free,'' said Lowrie of the shoulder, "but we're working on getting the strength back up and getting it feeling better, knowing that with the MRI results, it's just a matter of getting the strength and flexibility back.''

Lowrie was out of the lineup Sunday in Toronto, enjoyed the off-day in the schedule Monday and then was off again Tuesday. He's unsure how much rest he's going to need going forward.

"I think it's a day-by-day thing,'' he said. "If we continue to progress and know that as long as we stay on top of it, it will get better.''

Lowrie described the issue as "general tightness, weakness -- just what you'd expect after a collision.''

Lowrie collided with outfielder Mike Cameron 2 12 weeks ago in Detroit, the start of his problems.

"As far the symptoms, it is getting better,'' he said. "We're using every resource we have available to get it better.''

The Sox are still more than 10 days away from playing road interleague games, when they'll lose the use of the DH.

The schedule calls for the Sox to play nine straight in NL parks -- three in Pittsburgh, three in Philadelphia and three in Houston -- during which time they'll not have a spot for David Ortiz, who leads the team in, among other categories, homers and slugging percentage.

"This is hard...this is unfair,'' said Terry Francona. "We're going to go nine straight days (without use of Ortiz). In the past with Mikey Lowell, (Kevin Youkilis) and David, it was an obvious fix -- each guy played two (of every three games). Right now, it's not so obvious. It's going to be hard.''

Asked his thoughts on the proposed realignment plan which would eliminate divisions, award playoff spots to the top five teams in each league, shift an NL team to the AL and return to a balanced schedule, Francona said: "I love the idea of a balanced schedule. And the more teams they want to add to the playoffs, I'm all for.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.


Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."


Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.


Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.