Notes: Crawford finally hits first Fenway homer

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Notes: Crawford finally hits first Fenway homer

By MaureenMullen and Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Early Saturday morning Carl Crawford mentioned how nice it would be to hit his first home run at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox. He didnt exactly consider the fact that he had not yet done so to be a monkey on his back, but he was looking forward to it.

He can finally check that off his 2011 season to-do list.

With no outs in the second inning, David Ortiz on second and Jed Lowrie on first, Crawford took the first pitch from Brett Anderson and blasted it into the Red Sox bullpen, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead. He entered the game just 2-for-10, with two strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his career against Anderson.

We had a man on first and second so I was just looking to get a run over and pull the ball when he threw me a pitch I could handle and I was able to put good wood on it, Crawford said.

It was a good feeling to get his first Fenway homer.

Yeah, said Crawford, who had not homered at Fenway since May 26, 2006, while with the Rays. Because I was starting to wonder for a while, you know.

That was coming right out of the chute today, said manager Terry Francona. We hit in the cage before the game and werent even on the field and he rifled it. That was a great swing. And thats a guy Anderson thats really been tough on us. We had nobody with numbers against this guy and he kind of had his way with us . . . But, you score first and you score more than one thats a good formula for winning.

His teammates knew it would just be a matter of time before Crawford who had back-to-back three-RBI games for just the second time in his career sent one out of Fenway.

This guy, he hit a few balls the past couple series that I was like, No way, said David Ortiz. I know the right field fence for Fenway is kind of tricky but he crushed some balls and the ball didnt go nowhere. I was like, Well, man, welcome to my club.

A solution? Ortiz suggested Crawford lobby to have the right-field fences moved in.

Well, he should ask about it, Ortiz said. I asked about it a few years ago. Now, its his turn. Maybe theyll do for a guy with another 20 years left here.

With the three-game sweep of the As, after losing four straight, the Sox have swept five series this season, three at home. Their previous sweeps, though, had been of series less than three games. It was the Sox first sweep of the As at Fenway since Aug. 1-3, 2008. They have not lost any of the four homestands this season, winning three and splitting another.

John Lackey earned the win, the first Red Sox starting pitcher to get a win since Tim Wakefield on May 27 in Detroit.

Jarrod Saltalamacchias eighth-inning triple was just the second of his career, and first since 2007 while with Texas.

Daniel Bard pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth career save, and first since June 18, 2010, against the Dodgers.

Clay Buchholz willbe given two extra days' rest because of his back soreness and willpitch Friday in Toronto rather than Wednesday in NewYork.

TimWakefield will go Wednesday in hisplace.

"We'll kind of let Buchholz start his five-day cycle," saidTerry Francona. "I think that will do him a little bit of good. Wetalked to him a bunch Saturday and tried to get a feel for where hewas. I just think it makes sense.

"His back wassore. He's battled that for a while. His last outing, I don't think itinterfered with his pitching beside the fact that he was holding backat times -- that's probably the best way to put it. It just looked likehe was not quite reaching.

"Buck owned up to that.He said, 'It didn't hurt but I thought it was going to hurt.' We've allkind of been there. So rather than keep going like that, I think it'shard to pitch successfully like that, we'll give him an extra couple ofdays and I bet it will really help him . . . He knows it's in his bestinterest."

The Red Soxactivated Lackey, Sunday's starter, before the game and optioned outfielder JoshReddick back to Pawtucket to make room forhim.

The move leaves the Red Sox, temporarily, withjust 12 position players, but that will likely change intime for the series in New York, which begins Tuesday.

The Soxplan to activate Marco Scutaro (oblique) and would likely return apitcher to make room for the infielder.

Francona spokeabout his philosophy for pinch-running for two of his slower sluggers-- David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez -- in Saturday's extra-inning win. He pinch-ran for Ortiz in the eighth and Gonzalez in the 10th, and thus had Drew Sutton batting third and Mike Cameron fifth for the last four innings of the game.

"Wedon't do it very often," Francona said. "I think we thought it was ourbest chance to win. If I think it gives us the best chance towin, we do it. We just try to use common sense. We certainly don't tryto overdo it, because we don't like taking our best hitters out of thegame. But I think sometimes you need to."

Franconasaid he prefers to wait until Ortiz or Gonzalez are in scoring position"when they're the trail runners. In this instance, this is the go-aheadrun, so we needed to have better speed so hopefully we can gofirst-to-third or move up on a ball in the dirt, or whatever."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.