Pregame notes: No full-time DH in Ortiz's absence; Morales to 'pen

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Pregame notes: No full-time DH in Ortiz's absence; Morales to 'pen

BOSTON -- David Ortiz is expected to be out a week -- and likely longer -- but manager Bobby Valentine said he doesn't plan to have one specific player replace Ortiz as the team's DH.

On Tuesday, with Ortiz out after injuring his heel running the bases Monday night, Valentine went with Daniel Nava as the DH, hitting him in Ortiz's customary No. 3 spot in the lineup.

"We can rotate guys through,'' said Valentine. "I don't see one person sticking out and saying 'He's going to replace David Ortiz.' I think we'll get a combination of people to help us score runs.''

The opportunity for Nava comes at a time when he's ostensibly lost the everyday left fielder's job to Carl Crawford, who returned from a stint on the 60-day DL Monday.

Nava, however, finds himself in something of a slump of late. His batting average has dipped to .265, the lowest it's been all season. He homered in the three-game series in Tampa Bay, but it represented his only hit of the series.

Indeed, since June 25, Nava is hitting just .127 (8-for-63) and has just four extra-base hits -- two homers, two doubles -- in that span.

Other options for the Sox are few, at least untilif Ortiz is placed on the DL. One possibility is Cody Ross, who was not in right field and who was not mentioned by Valentine.

Valentine was asked about using Carl Crawford in the DH spot while returning Nava to left field. Valentine said he gave that move some consideration, but ultimately decided that the "second day back from the DL, I want him to get into the flow of the game. And DHing isn't the way to get into the flow of the game.''

While Valentine wouldn't confirm the news, it appears the Sox have decided to drop Franklin Morales from the starting rotation. The Sox used a six-man rotation coming out of the break to give their starters additional time to rebound, but now are ready to go back to a five-man starting staff.

Morales, who moved into the rotation when injuries sidelined Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, is an impressive 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in five starts.

"It's a hard decision," said pitching coach Bob McClure, who added that the Red Sox think the left-hander "has a future" as a starter. But Morales is more suited for relief work than any of the five other current starters -- Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the lineup despite some struggles of late. He's batting just .108 (4-for-37) since July 1 and had struck out 20 times in his last 41 plate appearances, including multiple strikeout games in six of his last nine starts.

"He's not laying off pitches soft and down in the strike zone,'' said Valentine.

Saltalamacchia came out early Tuesday for extra batting practice and Valentine said he was confident that the catcher could work through his slump.

"I've seen him do it before,'' he said.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.