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Red Sox notebook

Francona quick to help

Buchholz twice avoids an injury

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 4, 2010

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Terry Francona, who has had nearly 20 knee surgeries, came out of the dugout like Usain Bolt when Clay Buchholz was struck on the left ankle by a line drive off the bat of Kendry Morales in the second inning.

“The sound of it, I thought it hit him in the shoe,’’ Francona said. “He hit him higher than that, right above that bone. It got him pretty good.’’

Buchholz got to his feet, tossed a few practice pitches and was able to last into the sixth inning. In what was an otherwise carefree 17-8 victory, that was a scary moment for the Red Sox.

“It stunned me for a second,’’ said Buchholz, who narrowly avoided a Morales line drive in the fourth inning. “I’m sure it’ll be tight [today] and the next day, but I’ll get treatment and I should be fine.’’

Buchholz said the area was “tight’’ after he left the game but did not affect his pitching.

Buchholz pitched well for three innings before allowing four runs on six hits in his final 2 2/3 innings.

Stop sign up
Opposing teams were successful on 27 of 29 stolen-base attempts over the first 17 games of the season. They are 1 of 7 in the last nine thanks to a teamwide commitment to solve the problem.

The Sox caught two more runners last night as Buchholz picked off Torii Hunter in the fourth inning and Victor Martinez gunned down Macier Izturis in the sixth with the help of an acrobatic tag by Dustin Pedroia.

“Victor has worked so hard and his release is quicker. . . . Everybody is trying to do better,’’ Francona said “There’s going to be guys who get on who you can’t throw out. But we went through a spell there where everybody wanted to win and that’s a tough way to play.’’

Martinez was embarrassed after the Texas Rangers stole nine bases April 20 and vowed to improve.

“I’ve been working every day,’’ he said, before quickly mentioning that the pitchers have paid closer attention to holding runners. “I feel like I’ve gotten better.’’

Victim of success
Kevin Youkilis homered off Joe Saunders in the second inning. In the third inning, when he came to the plate again, Saunders drilled him in the back with his third pitch, a fastball.

Umpire John Hirschbeck issued warnings to both teams. There was no further retaliation, although Jon Lester could attend to that tonight.

Youkilis, who has been hit three times this season, said it was part of the game and showed no anger. “It helps my on-base percentage,’’ he said.

Youkilis also walked twice and doubled. That bumped his OPB from .361 to .386.

Youkilis was again at first base after missing Sunday’s game with a groin pull on his left side. He drove a ball over the Monster seats in his first at-bat last night.

“He feels actually a lot better,’’ Francona said before the game.

“For him to be in the lineup, I think that’s stating the obvious.’’

Francona said the one-day break was worthwhile. “As much as you want his bat in the lineup, I think him not playing really helped,’’ the manager said. “He should be fine.’’

Jeremy Hermida (left quad), who was not available Saturday or Sunday, was cleared to pinch hit.

Mike Cameron (hernia) was on the field before the game, taking fly balls and batting practice. He is getting closer to a minor league rehab assignment.

“Cam’s the one that’s really feeling pretty good,’’ Francona said “That doesn’t mean he’s on the verge of playing, but he’s doing really well. There’s going to be some time it takes for him to just get stronger and in his range of motion, especially when he’s lifting his knees to run.

“He has to be able to handle that and not hurt himself. But he’s done really well. He’s getting after it pretty good. I think he’s done a good job. He’s been intelligent, but he’s pushing hard. That’s a good combination.’’

Looking ahead
It’s never too early to think about a series against the Yankees, who arrive Friday. The Sox have Josh Beckett, Buchholz, and Lester lined up. The Yankees will skip struggling Javy Vazquez (1-3, 9.78 ERA) and pitch Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett . . . Counting the playoffs, last night was the 55th time the Red Sox and Angels have played since the start of the 2005 season . . . Last night was the ninth time in 26 games that David Ortiz did not start, the sixth time in the last 12 games.

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

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