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Red Sox Notebook

Thinking ahead aids Gonzalez on RBIs

Adrian Gonzalez connects for a homer off the Blue Jays’ Kyle Drabek in the first inning. Adrian Gonzalez connects for a homer off the Blue Jays’ Kyle Drabek in the first inning. (Abelimages/Getty Images)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 13, 2011

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TORONTO — Adrian Gonzalez has driven in at least one run in nine consecutive games, matching the longest streak in the major leagues this season.

A Red Sox player hasn’t done that since Manny Ramirez, who had a 10-game streak in September 2002.

Gonzalez drove in two more runs in yesterday’s 14-1 rout of the Blue Jays. He has 60 on the season, most in the majors.

As far as Gonzalez is concerned, the credit belongs to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, the hitters ahead of him in the game’s most potent lineup.

“I’ve been able to hit a couple of solo home runs here or there. But it’s all about the guys ahead of me,’’ Gonzalez said. “RBIs are all about the guys ahead of you. Those guys are doing an incredible job of giving me multiple opportunities every day.’’

Gonzalez does have the ability to take advantage of the situation.

“He has a knack. He understands what he’s got to do. Whether it’s shorten up or try and hit the ball out of the ballpark,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

Gonzalez explained how having runners on base helps make him a better hitter.

“They’re going to pitch the way they’re going to pitch. But when you have people on base, the pitcher doesn’t want to walk you and put you on base,’’ he said.

“They’re still going to pitch to you. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to throw fastballs down the middle. You just know that if you get to a situation where it’s 2-0 or 3-1, he might throw an offspeed pitch and it’ll be a strike.’’

Gonzalez had a solo home run in the first inning. Then in the third, with Marco Scutaro on third and one out, he grounded to second to bring in the run.

“That’s why he’s one of the best in the game,’’ said Pedroia. “He’s not looking to hit a home run to produce three runs. If he has to hit a ground ball or a sac fly, he’ll do it. That’s why he’s so good.’’

Lowrie rests up Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup for the third time in six games because of a sore left shoulder. Francona also is planning to sit him out of tomorrow night’s game in Tampa.

With the team off today, Lowrie can get three days in a row to heal up a bit.

“What I want him to do is go out and feel good. Maybe two, three days will jump-start that a little bit,’’ Francona said.

Lowrie is in a 2-for-24 slump that has dropped his batting average from .304 to .276.

The return of Scutaro from the disabled list gives Francona the freedom to rest Lowrie without making a major impact on the lineup.

Scutaro was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI yesterday and is 10 of 24 in five games since being activated.

“We always try and do what’s right anyway,’’ Francona said. “But it’s nice when Marco steps in and does what he’s doing.’’

McDonald on the way Utility man Drew Sutton did not accompany the team to Tampa after the game. He is headed back to Triple A Pawtucket. The Sox are expected to activate outfielder Darnell McDonald from the disabled list tomorrow.

McDonald hit .345 with five extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in nine games for Pawtucket on his rehab assignment. He is on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps.

Rehab updates Lefthander Franklin Morales, who is on the disabled list with a forearm strain, started a rehabilitation assignment with Pawtucket Saturday by throwing a perfect inning against Charlotte. He struck out one and threw five of his nine pitches for strikes.

Morales is scheduled to pitch today and then be evaluated to determine whether he stays.

Righthander Junichi Tazawa is five games into his rehabilitation assignment as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

He threw four scoreless innings for Single A Salem Saturday night. After allowing 12 earned runs over 7 1/3 innings in his first two starts, Tazawa has thrown nine consecutive scoreless innings.

When asked if Tazawa was a candidate to help the major league team later in the season, Francona said, “Yeah, I think so.

“Realistically the second half of the season because he’s not the most experienced guy. It’s easy to forget when guys go down, but two years ago, coming out of camp, him and [Daniel] Bard were the two names you heard of. His command was flawless.’’

Mr. Reliable Gonzalez has played in 146 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the majors behind Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who has played in 270 straight . . . The Sox are 16-6 in day games. They were 20-23 last season . . . Ellsbury was 2 for 5 with a walk and three runs scored. He is 14 of 30 on the road trip with nine runs, four extra-base hits, and four RBIs. Ellsbury is 21 of 49 (.429) in a 10-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 16 of the last 17 games at 30 of 75 (.400). He is up to .318 on the season . . . Late last night, the Sox sent catcher Mike McKenry to Pittsburgh for future considerations. McKenry, 26, was acquired from Colorado March 29 and had spent the season at Triple A Pawtucket, where he hit .274. The move opens a spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster.

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

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