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Trying his fortunes again

Some high stakes in Wakefield start

He’s never put the chase for the milestone first, but Tim Wakefield has been stuck on 199 wins since July 24. He’s never put the chase for the milestone first, but Tim Wakefield has been stuck on 199 wins since July 24. (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / September 13, 2011

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Tim Wakefield has been saying for weeks that the focus of his starts should be on the Red Sox getting a victory and not his seeking 200 career wins.

That has never been the case more so than tonight when Wakefield takes the mound at Fenway Park against the Blue Jays. The Sox have lost five straight and have seen what once was a comfortable lead in the American League wild-card race chopped down by the Rays.

The Sox have not had a starter go more than five innings since Jon Lester threw seven shutout innings against the Jays last Tuesday.

Not coincidentally, that is the last game they won.

Wakefield faced the Jays Wednesday at Rogers Centre, giving up four earned runs in five innings. He left with an 8-5 lead only to see the bullpen allow six runs in a game the Sox lost, 11-10.

Wakefield has not won since July 24. He is 0-3 in seven starts since with a 5.23 earned run average.

Wakefield, 45, is seeking to become the 108th pitcher in history with 200 wins.

Beckett takes mound The Sox were off yesterday. But Josh Beckett reported to Fenway and threw off a mound, the first time he has done that since spraining his right ankle in Toronto Sept. 5.

A team official said the session went well.

In his usual pre-start routine, Beckett would be ready to go Thursday in the series opener against the Rays. But the Sox could wait an extra day or two to make sure the injury is healed. Their plans should be revealed today.

Beckett (12-5) has thrown 17 scoreless innings against the Rays this season, allowing two hits without a walk and striking out 12.

Gathright en route According to NESN’s Peter Gammons, the Sox have decided to call up Joey Gathright today.

The 30-year-old outfielder was signed out of an independent league Aug. 31. He was 3 for 8 with a stolen base and two RBIs in 10 games for Pawtucket.

Gathright has not been in the majors since 2009, when he played 17 games for the Red Sox in September and was on the roster for the Division Series against Anaheim, successful on his only stolen base attempt.

The Sox envision Gathright serving a Dave Roberts-type role as a pinch runner.

He has 80 career steals in 109 attempts.

Papelbon a keeper? Jonathan Papelbon steadfastly has refused entreaties to sign a long-term contract with the Sox, going through the arbitration process to get to free agency. Papelbon has said his goal is to sign a landmark deal that would establish the market for closers.

Papelbon hits free agency after the World Series this season. But general manager Theo Epstein hasn’t given up on the idea of keeping the righthander.

“Now, the different scenario is with free agency coming up. But there’s never been a lack of interest in keeping him here,’’ Epstein said on WEEI yesterday.

“Obviously, a proven guy, dominant guy. Frankly, I think when a lot of people doubted him over the previous two years, when he wasn’t quite as great as he was earlier in his career, we stuck with him, and now we’re getting rewarded for that this year.

“I have to think there’s a lot of mutual interest in continuing the relationship. Whether it can be done or not, who knows? Free agency is always interesting.’’

Papelbon is making $12 million this year. He is likely to seek a deal akin to the $15 million Mariano Rivera has averaged with the Yankees since 2008.

Blood drive a success According to the Red Cross, a record 1,811 units of blood were collected at Fenway Sunday. It was the largest one-day blood drive in the United States to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks . . . Jacoby Ellsbury takes a 16-game hit streak into tonight’s game . . . David Ortiz needs eight RBIs to reach 100 for the seventh time.

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

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