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Aceves comes up aces again

Reliable reliever continues to excel

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / September 28, 2011

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BALTIMORE - Alfredo Aceves appeared in four playoff games for the Yankees in 2009 and has a World Series ring he doesn’t often break out in the Red Sox clubhouse.

What the Sox are going through now reminds him of those tense times.

“Every day, you have to do it,’’ the righthander said after throwing 3 2/3 strong innings of relief to help the Sox to an 8-7 victory over the Orioles last night. “Is it a long season? Yes it’s a long season. In September, you have to let it go.’’

Aceves allowed one run on three hits, calming the Orioles down after they scored three runs off starter Erik Bedard. Aceves left with the Sox leading, 8-4, and got the win.

“He has done it time and time again. He’s so valuable doing what he’s doing,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Because he’s so resilient, I know we’ll have him [today]. And we’ll probably need him.’’

Aceves has his own way of doing things, including his own set of signs, and had never worked with rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway before. But the two came to an accord fairly quickly.

“Catching Aceves was a little bit different for me,’’ Lavarnway said. “I made sure that I talked to [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] in the dugout before I went out there and then had a nice long talk with [Aceves] before he started his warm-ups.

“The umpire was yelling at me a little bit, but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. ‘He’s a very talented pitcher and I enjoyed working with him.’’

Doubtful duo Throughout a season marked by the bumps and bruises inherent with their position, either Saltalamacchia or Jason Varitek caught every game for the Red Sox.

That streak ended last night in Game 161 when Lavarnway was behind the plate with the season on the line.

Saltalamacchia was struck on the right collarbone by a foul tip Monday might. X-rays were negative but he had a nasty welt and was still sore when he reported to the park yesterday.

Varitek has a badly bruised right knee, the result of being hit by a pitch Sunday.

Saltalamacchia is hopeful of playing tonight.

“It’s gotten better. I went out and threw and it was stiff and sore. But I felt OK,’’ he said. “I’m definitely available. I feel like I could perform. But if it takes today to be ready 100 percent tomorrow, than that’s what we’ll do.’’

Saltalamacchia told Francona he was willing to start. But the decision was taken out of his hands.

“Salty got hit pretty hard. Because of who’s pitching and because of Tek being nicked up, too, I think this makes sense for us,’’ Francona said.

Varitek’s status is less certain. He was not available to reporters before the game.

Lester on deck For only the second time in his career, Jon Lester will start on three days’ rest tonight. It last happened April 23, 2008 against the Angels at Fenway Park. The lefthander allowed four runs on nine hits over five innings.

Lester did not get a decision in a game the Sox lost, 6-4.

There are some advantages for Lester this time around. He threw only 51 pitches against the Yankees Saturday, giving up eight runs over 2 2/3 innings.

Lester also is 14-0 with a 2.35 earned run average in 17 career starts against the Orioles. He faced Baltimore once this season, allowing two runs on four hits in eight innings at Camden Yards April 28.

Scheduling matters Major League Baseball that a play-in game with the Rays (if necessary) would be at 4:07 p.m. tomorrow at Tropicana Field. The game will be on TBS.

The Rays have home field advantage by virtue of winning the season series against the Sox, 12-6.

If the Sox were to advance to the postseason, Game 1 of the Division Series in Texas or Detroit would be Friday at 5:07 p.m. Game 2 would be Saturday at a time to be determined.

Francona has not named a starter for a potential game tomorrow. His choices would be to use either Tim Wakefield or John Lackey on three days’ rest. They started in Sunday’s doubleheader against the Yankees in New York.

The Sox could try rookie Kyle Weiland, who has started twice against the Rays this month. He gave up seven earned runs on nine hits and five walks over seven innings, however.

There is a possibility the Sox could trade for a starting pitcher. The play-in game is considered part of the regular season, not the postseason, so adding a player via trade is within the rules.

He owns the O’s Jacoby Ellsbury was 1 for 5 with a two-run home run in the third inning. That extended his hit streak against the Orioles to 35 games, the first coming April 17, 2009. He is 66 of 156 (.423) in the streak . . . Marco Scutaro, 2 for 4 with a double and a two-run home run, is hitting .375 this month with 12 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs . . . Clay Buchholz will not pitch today or tomorrow, according to Francona. If he does face hitters again this week, it would be in an Instructional League game in Florida. The Sox don’t feel it would be smart for Buchholz to come off the disabled list and pitch in a critical game right away. He has been out since June with a stress fracture in his back. Francona said not facing major league hitters before the postseason would not preclude Buchholz from being on the postseason roster . . . Righthanded relievers Scott Atchison (groin strain) and Dan Wheeler (flexor tendon) are making progress but will not be available before the end of the regular season. Their availability beyond that is questionable . . . Happy birthday to Johnny Pesky, who turned 92 yesterday.

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

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