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Red Sox Notebook

Youkilis back with a bang

He goes deep in return to lineup

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 15, 2011

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SEATTLE - Based on how he swung the bat in yesterday’s 5-3 loss against Seattle, Kevin Youkilis’s sore back is feeling much better.

The third baseman hit the ball hard twice, the second time resulting in a two-run home run in the eighth inning.

Youkilis played the entire game against the Twins Wednesday night in Minnesota, but he was unable to take the field after the Sox arrived in Seattle, missing the first two games of the series.

Youkilis was back in the lineup for the final game. He struck out his first time up. But then he walked, lined to right field as Ichiro Suzuki made a nice running catch in the gap, and then homered to left field.

“It felt a little bit better. Sometimes it takes three days and today was the third day,’’ Youkilis said. “I wanted to get in there and play. Sometimes, at this time of the year, if you’re not 100 percent you have to go out there and play.’’

Youkilis said there was no one incident that caused the injury.

“No, just when you play baseball and you play every day you’re going to get things that pop up,’’ he said. “It’s just one of those things. Not one thing did it. They say it’s just the grind of the season and sometimes you get locked up.’’

The home run came off Jeff Gray. With Dustin Pedroia on first and two outs, Youkilis hammered a split-finger fastball.

“He just left it up. I was very fortunate to get a good piece of the bat on it,’’ Youkilis said. “I’m just glad I finally found a hole. It was over the wall.’’

Youkilis was moving gingerly after the game.

“It’s still tight. Hopefully with the off day [today] it will loosen up and then the next day it will feel good,’’ he said.

Youkilis has missed a handful of games this season because of assorted aches and pains. His batting average is uncharacteristically low at .267, but he has 17 home runs and 78 RBIs.

Buchholz not close Clay Buchholz, out since June 17 because of a stress fracture in his lower back, said he remains “a few weeks’’ away from throwing off a mound again.

Buchholz, who turned 27 yesterday, is going through a structured program to strengthen himself in preparation to pitch again. But with the minor league season ending Sept. 5, he could run out of time to make the necessary rehabilitation appearances.

If Buchholz were to come back this season, which seems like a long shot, it could be as a relief pitcher.

“We haven’t even talked about that yet,’’ he said.

Bumpy trip The Sox finished their road trip 3-3. They had a winning record on their seven previous road trips, a franchise record . . . The Sox lost a series for the first time since dropping two of three at Philadelphia June 28-30 . . . Adrian Gonzalez was 2 for 4. He has 54 multihit games, most in the majors . . . David Ortiz’s single in the fourth inning extended his hit streak to seven games. He is 13 of 26 with seven RBIs in that stretch . . . The Sox went 5-4 against Seattle this season . . . The Sox have 81 home runs on the road, most in the majors . . . Seattle closer Brandon League faced six batters in the series and retired them all, four by strikeout.

Rays reshuffle Tampa Bay’s game against the Yankees in New York yesterday was rained out. James Shields, the scheduled starter, will now face the Red Sox tomorrow in the first game of a day/night doubleheader at Fenway. Jon Lester goes for the Sox. Jeff Niemann will oppose Erik Bedard in the second game. In Wednesday’s day game, it will be David Price against John Lackey . . . Four University of North Carolina products - Red Sox pitchers Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller and Mariners infielders Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager - posed for a photograph on the field before the game . . . Tim Wakefield was playing at Florida Tech in 1986 when Seattle starter Charlie Furbush was born in South Portland, Maine.

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

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