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Sox draw double duty

Rainout results in two today

After 9 1/2 hours at Fenway Park yesterday, Terry Francona acknowledged defeat.

''I have tried like hell to stop this rain," the Red Sox manager said just before 8 p.m., his team's day spoiled not by the pesky Toronto Blue Jays but by unrelenting rain and wind. ''I just can't do it. I got here at 10:30 this morning and I prepared. I couldn't stop it."

And so his team will have to do it the hard way. Seven games in six days, beginning with two today, a split-admission doubleheader at 1:05 and 7:05. Curt Schilling, scheduled to pitch last night, will start tonight. Tim Wakefield, scheduled for tonight, will pitch this afternoon.

Wakefield had been penciled in to start opposite Mike Mussina Sunday in the season finale but will instead come back on three days' rest to face the Yankees Saturday. Schilling, previously in line to face Randy Johnson in the season's penultimate game, is now scheduled to go Sunday, in Game No. 162, possibly with the division at stake.

''It would [be] very interesting and very good for Curt to go ahead and do that," said Mike Myers, who, along with Chad Harville and Jonathan Papelbon were the only Red Sox players in the clubhouse when it opened to the media following the postponement. ''When the moment is high, he steps up to the occasion.

''And on Wakefield's side of it, it would have been good to see Wakefield out there because of what he went through in 2003, how he's thrown against the Yankees in the past, and what he did last year, coming in and throwing three innings in Game 5 [of the ALCS] to pick up the win.

''For Curt to go ahead and have that opportunity, it's not a bad guy to have out there. I'll take that any time."

Schilling and Johnson, again, will miss each other. The co-MVPs of the 2001 World Series, despite 901 combined career starts, have never started opposite each other.

The probable matchups this weekend: David Wells vs. Chien-Ming Wang Friday, Wakefield vs. Johnson Saturday, Schilling vs. Mussina Sunday.

''We set it up a long time ago in what we thought was our best order," Francona said. ''So you stay with that. Then when it rains, we make adjustments."

The more pressing issue, though, is today, and how playing six hours of baseball, possibly more, will affect a team, especially a team coping with fatigue and injuries.

''It is hard to win a doubleheader," Francona said. ''Because of the importance of these games, we're probably going to have a lot of guys who play 18 innings, maybe 20 innings, maybe 22, who knows? Whatever we're asked to do, we'll always try to make it to our advantage."

Home field was to the Sox' advantage last night. The ability to call a game or wait out the rain rests with the home team until the game begins, at which point the discretion becomes the umpires'. By calling the game in the 7 o'clock hour, the Sox were able to entirely preserve Schilling for tonight.

''I don't think you ever want weather to be a reason why somebody is only able to go three innings," Francona said. ''That's nobody's goal. We need to stay away from that.

''That gets him in a real tough situation, up, down, pitch, don't pitch . . . He stretched lightly in his progression, so that part's good."

The bullpen becomes the next concern. Myers promised to be available for both games and believes his fellow relievers will be equally eager to contribute.

''You throw two innings in Game 1 you probably won't be used in Game 2," Myers said. ''But this time of year, you throw two and ask for time off, you're asking for another uniform next season."

One pitcher who doesn't figure to be asked to contribute in both games: the setup man, Papelbon. He said he's never pitched twice in one day and doesn't expect to be used twice today.

Mike Timlin? He's sitting on 78 appearances, capable of reaching Greg Harris's single-season Sox record (80, in 1993) as soon as today.

''Hopefully, it does [happen] because that means we're winning in the ninth inning both times out," Myers said. ''It'd be nice to see him throw two games."

Tickets for last night's game will be honored for today's 1:05 game. The gates open for Game 1 at 11:05 a.m. They don't figure to close until close to midnight.

''You handle things the best that you can," Francona said. ''That's what we'll do."

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