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Crawford was a real positive

He goes 3 for 4, stays optimistic

Alfredo Aceves heads back to the mound after giving up a two-run single to Vladimir Guerrero in the eighth inning. Alfredo Aceves heads back to the mound after giving up a two-run single to Vladimir Guerrero in the eighth inning. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / September 22, 2011

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Carl Crawford can’t save his season at this point. But he did his best to save the Red Sox last night.

The beleaguered left fielder was 3 for 4 with a double, a triple, two RBIs, and a run in last night’s 6-4 loss to Baltimore at Fenway Park.

The Sox have dropped 14 of 18 games but Crawford remains optimistic that they will hold on and claim the American League wild card.

“You’d like to think that. You want to stay positive and keep doing the things you know how to do,’’ he said. “You have to turn the page when something bad like this happens.

“We can still get in. We need to finish strong.’’

Crawford tripled and scored in the third inning. His two-run double with two outs in the fourth gave the Sox a 4-1 lead. But Josh Beckett could not hold on.

Crawford is hitting .259 with 55 RBIs.

“For me right now, anything I do positive is big for me,’’ he said. “Just trying to gain some confidence going into the postseason and hopefully I can get better with every game.’’

So there will be a postseason?

“I’m still very confident this team will find a way to get to the playoffs,’’ Crawford said. “I know it looks bad now. But in some form or another I think we’ll get it together and find a way.’’

Buchholz in relief? As Clay Buchholz gets closer to pitching in a game for the Sox, manager Terry Francona made it clear the righthander would be limited to a relief role given the lack of time to build up arm strength.

“He can’t start right now. He knows that,’’ Francona said. “He’s not ready to start. He can’t do that. He’s not stretched out enough.’’

Buchholz threw 32 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday. He said he felt only normal soreness and nothing with his back. Buchholz has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a stress fracture in his lower back.

“Everything feels pretty good,’’ he said. “That was a good test for me. My back feels fine.’’

Buchholz has said his goal is to get to a point where he could start a playoff game. But the Sox seem more intent on getting him ready for a relief appearance, probably in Baltimore Monday, then using him in that role should the team advance to the postseason.

“In fairness to him, we’re going to keep taking it a step at a time,’’ Francona said. “The last thing I want to do is make it sound like Buch didn’t [want to pitch] or failed. This kid’s done a great job trying to help us out. He feels real good. If he can pitch, that would be a big bonus.’’

Given how long it has been since he last pitched in a game, Buchholz is essentially starting over. It would take several weeks to get him up to 85 pitches.

Francona said Buchholz would throw again either today at Fenway before the team leaves for New York or tomorrow at Yankee Stadium.

“We want to see how he’s feeling. There’s some things we need to sift through,’’ the manager said.

Big Apple plans The Sox will start Jon Lester against the Yankees tomorrow, with Tim Wakefield scheduled for Saturday. Sunday’s starter is up in the air.

“We have to figure it out. We have three days there. Obviously we have a few moving parts,’’ Francona said.

John Lackey is a possibility. But at 12-12 with a 6.49 earned run average, he’s not a very attractive candidate. Lackey is 0-3 with a 9.12 ERA in his last five starts. Opponents hit .358 against him in those games.

One possibility seems to be waiting to see if Alfredo Aceves is needed in long relief and if not, starting him.

“I don’t know that we need to . . . that’s kind of . . . we’ve got moving parts,’’ Francona said.

The Francona-to-English translation of that sentence is, “maybe.’’

Erik Bedard is not a candidate after throwing 76 pitches over 2 2/3 innings Tuesday - 54 in the third inning alone.

“A 50-pitch inning is tough. The guy hadn’t pitched in three weeks,’’ Francona said. “He was about at a 75, 80-pitch limit anyway. When you get 50 of them in one inning, I can see where he would need a little time.’’

The Sox would prefer that Bedard pitch in Baltimore Tuesday then, if needed, in a playoff game.

Try, try again Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew are set to try to take batting practice tomorrow in New York. That could be a final test to see whether either will play again this season . . . The Sox drew 3,054,001 at home, just shy of the record 3,062,699 in 2009 . . . If the Sox and Rays finish tied after 162 games, a one-game playoff to decide the wild card would be Sept. 29 at Tampa Bay. If the Sox and Angels finish tied, Boston would host the one-game playoff. If the Tigers and Rangers finish tied, Detroit would get the second seed in the postseason based on its 6-3 record against Texas this season . . . The players were ordered to be in the dugout for the national anthem (a rarity for most of them) and afterward threw baseballs out to the fans to mark the final home game of the regular season . . . Jacoby Ellsbury’s single in the third extended his hitting streak against the Orioles to 33 games. That’s the longest streak by any player against the Baltimore franchise . . . The Sox have committed 23 errors in their last 21 games . . . Adrian Gonzalez’s single in the fifth gave him 208 hits on the season, the most ever for a Sox first baseman. Mo Vaughn had the record of 207 in 1996.

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

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