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Rookie has been using the Palmer method

Buchholz like Hall of Famer

BALTIMORE - It made the papers last weekend that Dave Magadan, the Red Sox' hitting coach, told Jim Palmer that Boston rookie Clay Buchholz reminded him of the Hall of Famer, even before Buchholz threw his no-hitter.

Palmer was in Fenway Park last Saturday night broadcasting the game for the Orioles' television network. What did he think of the comparison?

"He has a little different windup, but better results," Palmer said with a smile before last night's game. "I came from right over the top. He does, too, but that'll probably change with better mechanics. He has a better changeup than I had at that age. I probably threw a little harder, but he has a really good curveball. It looks like Don Sutton's curveball, and he's in the Hall of Fame."

Like Buchholz, Palmer was a wide receiver in football in high school and such a good athlete that the Orioles used him at times as a pinch runner. Unlike Buchholz, Palmer also was a star basketball player in high school.

In his time, Palmer said, a pitching coach usually wanted to know three things of a pitcher: "Can you pound the strike zone? He was certainly able to do that. Can you throw something other than a fastball in a fastball count? He certainly was able to do that. And can you pitch inside? He was able to do that."

Buchholz came out of the bullpen in the sixth inning last night to make his first appearance since his no-hitter. It took him two batters to give up a hit. He walked Brian Roberts, and Tike Redman grounded a ball through the right side for a single.

Palmer is old school enough to be amused by the obsession with pitch counts; Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that Buchholz would have been lifted, even with a no-hitter in progress, if he was at 120 pitches and a new batter was at the plate. "I think Theo cares about the Red Sox, but he may have been watching the Little League World Series," Palmer said. "You couldn't throw more than 85 pitches in Williamsport [Pa.].

"[Pitch counts] are certainly well-advised and all that, but do we get a little message [from last Saturday night], that when there are 37,000 people in the park and you're throwing a no-hitter, you can throw just as hard at 115 pitches as you did early in the game? If you go to [Curt ] Schilling, [Jim] Lonborg, [Luis ] Tiant, [Gaylord ] Perry, any of those guys would tell you, that's how you learn about yourself."

The no-hitter, Palmer said, is no guarantee that Buchholz opens next season in the Sox' rotation. Maybe he does, Palmer said, but the Sox haven't seen him pitch enough yet. "I don't think you can get a good read on a guy in just two or three times," he said. "You like his athleticism, you like his stuff, you like the fact he's got three pitches, but still, you don't know."

Off the record

David Ortiz's home run in the fifth inning, which tied the score at 6, ensured that Tim Wakefield would not be the pitcher of record, ending his streak of 26 games with a decision. Wakefield was the team's first pitcher since Danny MacFayden in 1929 to have a decision in all of his first 26 starts. The home run was also the 200th for Ortiz since he joined the Sox . . . J.D. Drew batted seventh, the third time he has hit so far down in the order and first time since Aug. 11 in Baltimore, a game in which last night's Orioles starter, Garrett Olson, also started and Drew had three hits. Drew had three hits the next day, too, but in 21 games since, he was batting .200 (13 for 65), with one home run and five RBIs. Drew's on-base percentage in that span was .289, his slugging percentage a dismal .308, and he had as many strikeouts (13) as hits. Drew's OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .733 ranks 22d and last among right fielders with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. He is the only right fielder in that group with a slugging percentage under .400 (.380). Only Kansas City's Mark Teahen, with six home runs, has fewer than Drew's seven. Drew went hitless with a walk in four plate appearances last night, grounding into a double play in the eighth after rookie Jacoby Ellsbury lined a pinch single to load the bases. When asked if he intended to keep running Drew out there, manager Terry Francona said, "Oh, yeah."

No excuses

Francona dismissed speculation about whether reliever Hideki Okajima was tired, even though Okajima has periodically acknowledged fatigue as affecting his performance.

Okajima, who gave up the deciding two-run home run to Toronto's Vernon Wells Wednesday night, has worked 65 1/3 innings, his most since he appeared in 56 games and threw 72 1/3 innings for the Yomiuri Giants in 2000. Okajima's 61 appearances already are a career high.

"I think he left a changeup up," Francona said. "No one asked him if he was tired the last time he pitched and got people out. Bobby Jenks [of the White Sox] gave up a couple of runs in the ninth. Was he tired? The way the game is, I think everybody is somewhat tired at this point in the season, but the velocity on his fastball is exactly where it was early in the season."

On the outs again

Doug Mirabelli, who came off the disabled list last Saturday after missing two weeks with a strained right calf, may be headed for another unwanted vacation. Mirabelli pulled up lame while running out his third-inning single, and after taking second on Julio Lugo's hit, he was lifted for a pinch runner, Royce Clayton. Mirabelli is listed day to day with what Francona called a slight pull. It was Clayton's first appearance for the Sox since he signed a Triple A contract Aug. 23, following his release by the Blue Jays . . . Francona said Eric Gagné had a good bullpen session, throwing around 25 pitches, and will have another tomorrow . . . Coco Crisp had gone 204 at-bats and 54 games without hitting a home run before connecting in the fourth inning . . . Kevin Youkilis on Wednesday set the American League season record for consecutive errorless games by a first baseman, 122, and last night tied Mike Hegan for the AL record for consecutive errorless games (178). Hegan, playing for Milwaukee and Oakland at the time, started just 52 games during his streak and handled 787 chances. Youkilis has handled 1,507 chances. The big league record for consecutive errorless games is 193, held by Steve Garvey when he was with the Padres (1983-85) . . . Orioles ace Erik Bedard has stopped throwing, increasing the likelihood the AL strikeout leader will soon be shut down for the season with a strained muscle near his rib cage.

Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report and material from the Associated Press was used.

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