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Red Sox notebook

This wild card delivers jackpot

Miller deals well after sitting out

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 20, 2011

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Andrew Miller had not started a game for the Red Sox since July 31. In the days that followed, he pitched three innings of relief after losing his job in the rotation.

But after playing a doubleheader Tuesday, the Sox needed an extra starter this week and Miller was given the ball against the Royals last night.

Manager Terry Francona was candid before the game, saying he didn’t know what to expect from the lefthander. Miller is prone to command problems on normal rest. A long layoff usually serves to accentuate that.

But Miller had one of his best performances of the season, pitching effectively into the sixth inning as the Sox came away with a 7-1 victory. Miller allowed three hits, walked two, and struck out three, leaving a four-run lead in the hands of Alfredo Aceves.

“We’re plenty happy with how far he got in the game,’’ Francona said. “All in all, I thought it was a really good outing.’’

Miller (5-1) threw 50 of his 83 pitches for strikes. It was more than the Sox expected under the conditions.

“It’s big. Any time you haven’t been there in a while you have a little doubt,’’ Miller said. “Fortunately it worked out well.’’

Miller allowed a run in the third inning, but stranded runners in the next two innings.

“[The Royals] were certainly aggressive and swinging early. That was the key, throwing strikes,’’ Miller said. “They put the ball in play and our defense is pretty phenomenal. You take your chances any time you do that.’’

Miller will step back out of the rotation again. But this latest performance should earn him more starts down the stretch.

Backing out Jacoby Ellsbury was hit squarely in the back by Royals reliever Everett Teaford in the eighth inning, the 88-mile-per-hour fastball getting him between the numbers.

Ellsbury took first and came around to score on a sacrifice fly. But Francona then took him out.

When asked how he felt, Ellsbury said, “It feels like I got hit.’’

Asked if he felt he could play today, Ellsbury said: “I don’t know. That’s my only comments right now. He just took me out.’’

Ellsbury was 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and a run scored. He also made a terrific catch in the third inning, sprinting deep into the gap in right field to catch a sacrifice fly off the bat of Alex Gordon.

Fifth time a charm? Tim Wakefield won his 199th game July 24. He is 0-2 in his four starts since despite a respectable 4.08 earned run average.

The 45-year-old knuckleballer will try again tonight when he faces 1-5 Felipe Paulino.

Wakefield is 11-6 with a 4.26 ERA in 28 games against the Royals in his career, but he is 1-2 with a 7.03 ERA in six games over the last five years.

Injury updates Look for Marco Scutaro to be back at shortstop tonight. He has been out of the lineup for five straight games with a bad back . . . David Ortiz said the bursitis in his right heel is feeling better, but that it’s questionable he will play on this eight-game road trip . . . J.D. Drew, out with a sore left shoulder, continues to take batting practice on the field, but the Sox seem to be in no hurry to have him start a minor league rehabilitation assignment. “I don’t know if we know when,’’ Francona said. “Is there a discussion? Yeah. I don’t think we’re quite sure when to do that.’’. . . Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks, who is coming back from a back injury, is scheduled to throw a side session in Fort Myers, Fla., today and a simulated game Monday or Tuesday.

Movin’ on up Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, one of the top prospects in the organization, was promoted from Double A Portland to Triple A Pawtucket. He was 0 for 4 and struck out three times in his PawSox debut last night.

Middlebrooks hit .302 with an .865 OPS in 96 games for Portland, as well as 18 home runs and 80 RBIs. The Sox also promoted righthanded reliever Chris Martin from Single A Salem to Portland. Martin, 25, is a former independent league player who was signed after a spring training tryout. He is 6 foot 7 inches and throws 95 miles per hour. Martin had 1.45 ERA in 20 Single A games. Over 68 1/3 innings, he has allowed 45 hits with 12 walks and 52 strikeouts.

Time changes The Sept. 17 game against the Rays at Fenway Park will be at 4:10 p.m., not 7:10 p.m., after being picked up by Fox. The game against the Yankees in New York on Sept. 24 also will be on Fox at 4:10 p.m. . . . Francona was pleased to see Carl Crawford steal two bases Thursday. The Sox are urging the left fielder to be aggressive. “I take that as a real good sign. That’s what he used to do against us and it aggravated us,’’ Francona said. “We really like that. We’ve told Carl, ‘Go. If you get thrown out, it’s OK.’ ’’ . . . Josh Beckett had his 10-5 rights kick in yesterday. He has 10 years of major league service time and five years with the same team, which gives him the right to block any trade.

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

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