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Stomach bug bites Beckett

His start pushed back to Saturday

Red Sox center field Jacoby Ellsbury got a little hung up after he was unable to corral a Jesus Guzman double. Red Sox center field Jacoby Ellsbury got a little hung up after he was unable to corral a Jesus Guzman double. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 22, 2011

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There will come a time in the heat of the pennant race when the Red Sox will lean on Josh Beckett and their other starting pitchers. But for now, vacation days are plentiful.

Beckett was scheduled to start against the Padres last night before a stomach bug changed that plan. He will not pitch until Saturday in Pittsburgh.

That will give him nine days between starts, plenty of time to make sure he feels better and to rest his valuable right arm.

Beckett looked “just OK’’ yesterday, according to Terry Francona.

“We think it was necessary, what we did,’’ said the manager. “He doesn’t look that good.’’

By waiting until Saturday to pitch, Beckett (6-2) will essentially be skipping a start.

“That will allow him to have a relatively normal week as opposed to just the first day he feels good, get him out there and pitch,’’ said Francona. “Let him get his legs back under him and stuff like that.’’

The Sox will have Jon Lester, Beckett, and Tim Wakefield face the Pirates. Andrew Miller, who pitched Monday, will not pitch until Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Because of their depth, the Red Sox have been cautious with their starters all season. Lester had three extra days off before his start against the Yankees June 7 and has been sharp since. The Sox also gave Clay Buchholz extra rest this month to help his sore lower back.

Having Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves around affords Francona that luxury. Aceves started last night.

“Taking care of pitchers and giving them a couple of extra days, I think we would always do that,’’ Francona said “But it’s certainly a lot easier. Because not only do you have to do that, but you have to win. Aceves, Wake, now Andrew Miller, they have really done a good job.’’

The Sox met with Lester yesterday to discuss how and when they might try to get him extra days off before the All-Star break.

Experience has taught Francona that stealing a day or two during the early months of the season can make a big difference for a pitcher come September and October.

“There’s no getting around it,’’ he said. “The more gas they have in the tank, the better.’’

There he goes The fifth inning of last night’s 5-4 loss featured a rarity as David Ortiz stole a base, his first since Aug. 3, 2008. It also was an unplanned delayed steal as Ortiz stopped halfway to second, then kept going.

Ortiz took third when J.D. Drew stuck out and the ball got away from the catcher. But he was stranded when Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out.

Francona was perplexed.

“I’m not sure what he was doing. Once he went, I didn’t know if he was going to come back or not,’’ he said.

Said Ortiz: “Things happen. Better enjoy it. You’re not going to see that many times.’’

Ortiz was 0 for 5, snapping a 14-game hitting streak at Fenway Park.

Stars still aligned Adrian Gonzalez and Ortiz still lead at their positions in the latest round of voting for the All-Star Game. Gonzalez is ahead of the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira at first base by more than 600,000 votes. Ortiz has a lead of 1.3 million on the Rangers’ Michael Young at designated hitter. Dustin Pedroia is in second place at second base, 1.4 million behind New York’s Robinson Cano. Kevin Youkilis is third at third base behind the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre. Jacoby Ellsbury is fourth and Carl Crawford fifth in the outfield voting. The roster will be announced July 3 . . . Jed Lowrie, who is on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder, was in California yesterday to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Ankle ails Youkilis It’s obvious watching Youkilis run that something has been bothering him. Francona acknowledged that the third baseman is playing with a sore left ankle. “I don’t think it’s anything that will keep him out of the lineup,’’ the manager said. “I just think that ankle is grabbing at him a little bit.’’ . . . Crawford, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, played catch with bench coach DeMarlo Hale before batting practice. “Just trying to stay as sharp as I can and not get rusty,’’ Crawford said. “I feel pretty good.’’ Crawford is eligible to be activated July 3, the last game of the series in his hometown of Houston. “I’d love to play there but I told them I’ll be honest with how I feel,’’ he said. “I’m not going to do anything stupid.’’ . . . Marco Scutaro was 2 for 4 and is 18 of 48 (.375) in 12 games since coming off the disabled list . . . Gonzalez has 11 RBIs in eight interleague games . . . Daniel Bard has not allowed a run in 10 2/3 consecutive innings. His earned run average has dropped from 3.65 to 2.55 . . . The Padres made a series of roster moves before the game. Outfielder Brad Hawpe was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained middle finger on his right hand. Lefthander Wade LeBlanc, who started and went three innings Monday, was optioned to Triple A Tucson. Lefthander Josh Spence was called up from Double A San Antonio, and catcher Kyle Phillips was summoned from Tucson. San Diego also released infielder Jorge Cantu and designated outfielder Luis Durango for assignment.

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

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