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Lineup shuffled, team decked

Crawford (1 hit) bats in second slot

Jacoby Ellsbury shows his frustration after flying out in the seventh with the Sox down by nine. Jacoby Ellsbury shows his frustration after flying out in the seventh with the Sox down by nine. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / September 25, 2011

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NEW YORK - Red Sox manager Terry Francona made some significant lineup changes yesterday to try to spark his slumping team. They had little effect in a 9-1 loss.

Carl Crawford hit second for the seventh time this season and was 1 for 4, his RBI double coming in the seventh inning when the Sox were down by nine runs.

Dustin Pedroia hit third and was 2 for 4. Adrian Gonzalez was dropped to fifth in the order for the first time since Opening Day and was 1 for 4.

Friday night’s rainout gave Francona a chance to talk things over with bench coach DeMarlo Hale and several players.

“I think it puts Carl in a position maybe where he feels like he can impact us a little bit more,’’ Francona said before the game. “I know his on-base percentage isn’t typically what you would have for somebody in a 2-hole. But we’re in more of a shorter sample size right now and he seems like he’s trying to swing the bat and we have some righthanders coming up.’’

It didn’t work out that way. Crawford popped to second with Jacoby Ellsbury on second base in the first inning. He grounded softly to first base with a runner on in the third inning and grounded to second with two runners on to end the fourth inning.

Francona usually is wary of making many lineup changes, but he felt it was time to try something after talking to coaches and players.

“I invited their opinions and I got some good ones. I just think it’s the right thing to do,’’ said Francona, who liked the idea of having more speed at the top of the order and the lineup being a little deeper.

With a doubleheader today, Francona was unsure the new lineup would get a second chance.

Staying the course Francona said his approach during these trying times is to remain consistent and not change his personality.

“Everybody probably feels different,’’ Francona said. “I bet you there’s a handful of guys, they want to knock over the food or get loud. You have to be true to yourself, whether people agree with it or not. If I’m not true to myself, I’m not doing it correctly.’’

Francona learned that when he managed the Phillies from 1997-2000.

“The one thing I told myself when I got let go in Philadelphia was if I ever had a chance to do it again that I would be true to myself,’’ he said. “Everybody might not like that, but that’s how I feel about it and that’s important to me.’’

To that end, Francona has refused to engage in discussions about a potential roster or rotation for the postseason.

“I can’t do it. Probably should,’’ he said. “I can’t get myself to do that. We’ll get there when it’s appropriate.’’

Baby talk Josh Beckett is keeping an eye on his cellphone this weekend. His wife, Holly, is back in Boston waiting to deliver the couple’s first child, which was due two days ago. Beckett is scheduled to pitch tomorrow in Baltimore. If the baby hasn’t arrived by then, labor will be induced. Then Beckett - he hopes - will prepare for his playoff start. “I’m excited about the baby,’’ Beckett said. “We’re all about ready by now.’’

Youkilis in limbo Francona met with Kevin Youkilis before the game and the decision was made for the third baseman to continue his attempt to play again this season.

Youkilis has not played since Sept. 15 because of an assortment of injuries, mainly a hernia and bursitis in his left hip. He will have surgery to repair the hernia when the season is over.

Youkilis has been swinging at balls off a tee in recent days, hoping to return in some capacity.

“He’s willing to try to do anything we ask him to do, which we appreciate,’’ Francona said. “Is he available to pinch hit? How much can he do? Can he rebound the next day? We really don’t know.

“But we’ll give it a couple of more days here and see where it leads. We kind of have to do that. He can’t just show up one day and hit.’’

No call on Buchholz Clay Buchholz said his back felt fine after throwing two innings in a simulated game Friday, but no decision has been made as to when he will be activated. That could come as soon as tomorrow. Or the Sox could send Buchholz to Florida to pitch in an Instructional League game first. “As he ramps up the intensity, there’s going to be normal stiffness,’’ said Francona. “Coming back from something to begin with, we don’t want to push too much. We kind of said all along we’d love for him to pitch because he’s really good. If it works, great. But we need to take it at the right amount of speed.’’

Waiting on Wheeler Dan Wheeler has not pitched since Sept. 7 because of forearm tightness and will not return soon. That seems sure to affect his availability for the postseason. “I’m throwing with some more intensity and I’m hoping to try it off the mound in a day or two,’’ he said . . . The Sox will start Tim Wakefield and John Lackey in today’s doubleheader. The Yankees will start A.J. Burnett in the first game and Ivan Nova in the second game. Today will be the Sox’ fifth doubleheader of the season. They have split three and swept Oakland Aug. 27, which is the last time the Sox won two games in a row . . . Michael Jordan took in the game from a luxury box. He played for Francona in 1994 with the Double A Birmingham Barons . . . The loss snapped the Sox’ six-game win streak in the Bronx . . . Scott Atchison threw 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief. Atchison has not allowed a run in his last nine innings . . . Ellsbury had two hits and is up to .320 on the season.

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

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