Red Sox notebook

Beckett struggles in return

He downplays illness as a factor

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 29, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA — Josh Beckett looked sharp in the first inning against the Phillies last night, getting three outs on 10 pitches. But the rest of the night was a struggle for the righthander.

Beckett looked like a pitcher who had missed 12 days with the flu, giving up five runs on five hits in a 5-0 loss. He threw 53 of his 84 pitches for strikes, but had only one strikeout.

“I felt all right. I left some pitches up,’’ said Beckett, who didn’t think his illness was a factor.

Sox manager Terry Francona said Beckett did not seem to have his usual strength, an observation backed by his fastball hitting 92 miles per hour, not 94 or 95.

Domonic Brown and Shane Victorino each had two-run homers.

“I felt like I had a couple of pitches when I needed to,’’ Beckett said. “It was kind of a track meet in the outfield for the first few innings.’’

Beckett entered the game with the lowest earned run average in the major leagues at 1.86. It rose to 2.20

Ellsbury closing in Jacoby Ellsbury has closed to within 121,325 votes of Texas’s Josh Hamilton for a starting spot in the All-Star Game. Voting continues on line until tomorrow night on

“I heard about that. It’s pretty awesome,’’ Ellsbury said. “If I could get in, it would be my first time. Getting voted in by the fans would be even better.’’

Ellsbury is hitting .299 with nine home runs, matching his career high. He also leads the American League with 25 stolen bases. He went 0 for 4 last night.

“I hope Red Sox Nation comes through for me,’’ Ellsbury said.

Adrian Gonzalez is ahead of the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira by nearly a million votes. Ortiz is more than two million votes in front of the Rangers’ Michael Young for the DH spot.

Dustin Pedroia is roughly 1.8 million votes behind the Yankees’ Robinson Cano at second base.

The rosters will be announced Sunday.

Caution for Buchholz Clay Buchholz is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday. But it could be well after that before he pitches again.

“I can still feel it,’’ said Buchholz, who is out with a lower back strain. “I don’t want to pitch until it’s 100 percent out of there.’’

The initial plan was for Buchholz to pitch against Toronto Monday. Pitching in that series remains a possibility, but the Sox will take a conservative approach.

“I don’t know,’’ Francona said. “We’re going to be really careful with him, obviously. He’s improving, which is good. It’s not all the way. I can tell you he’s not going to pitch until we’re comfortable that he can go out and handle it. We’ll just continue to monitor that.

“He’s not going to pitch in Houston. We’ll see how it does when we go back off this trip, see where he’s at.’’

Buchholz threw a side session Monday. But his ability to go deep into a game and not feel his back is a concern.

“We don’t want him to make a start or two and go back where he was,’’ Francona said.

The longer Buchholz is out, the more necessary it will become for him to make at least one minor league rehab start. He has not pitched since June 16.

“I think if we get beyond that Toronto series, I’d probably have to go pitch a few innings somewhere before coming back,’’ he said. “It’s hard to go that long without facing hitters.’’

Crawford update Carl Crawford, who is out with a strained left hamstring, jogged before the game. He went back and forth six times for 90 feet at 50 percent of his usual speed. Crawford is eligible to come off the DL Sunday.

“I don’t know how realistic that is,’’ Francona said. “I guarantee, when you see him, he’s OK.’’

Jenks, Morales back The Sox changed the look of their bullpen before the series, activating righthander Bobby Jenks and lefthander Franklin Morales off the disabled list.

Righthander Scott Atchison and lefthander Tommy Hottovy were optioned to Pawtucket.

Both pitched last night. Morales threw a perfect seventh inning in relief of Beckett, striking out two. Jenks started the eighth inning and got two outs before Chase Utley singled and Ryan Howard drew a walk. But he struck out Victorino to end the inning.

Jenks has been out since straining an intercostal muscle on the left side of his back June 7 at Yankee Stadium. He has appeared in just 15 games this season because of injuries, four since May 1.

“I’m excited to be back,’’ said Jenks, who threw a scoreless inning for Double A Portland Saturday. “No one could be more frustrated than I am or more happy to be back.’’

Jenks said he feels healthy now and that one inning was enough to confirm that.

“Lots of Nicorette gum,’’ Jenks said when asked how he has dealt with the frustration of not playing.

Morales was obtained from the Rockies May 19, appeared in two games, then was placed on the disabled list May 26 with what the team said was a strained forearm.

Morales pitched in six games for Pawtucket, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six. Morales last pitched for Pawtucket Saturday, throwing a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

“Everything feels good now,’’ he said. “My elbow is fine.’’

Phillies lose Madson Philadelphia placed closer Ryan Madson on the 15-day disabled list with a contusion on his right hand. Righthander Andrew Carpenter was called up from Lehigh Valley . . . Lefthanded reliever Dennys Reyes, who accepted a minor league assignment after being designated for assignment in April, has reported to the Gulf Coast Red Sox after working out in extended spring training . . . The Sox are 6-7 in interleague games . . . The loss was only the seventh in 26 games against the Phillies dating to the 2004 season . . . Pedroia was 0 for 3 with a walk, snapping his hit streak at 11 games . . . The Phillies have 12 shutouts, the most in the majors . . . The Dropkick Murphys and the Mighty Mighty BossTones will play Fenway Park Sept. 8 and 9. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund. Tickets go on sale July 7 at noon. Go to or call (877) RED-SOX9. The Fenway box office also will have tickets.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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