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Support for Wake

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  June 20, 2006 11:14 PM

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Terry Francona and Tim Wakefield didn't want to say it, so it was left to Alex Cora.

"It's about time we scored runs for Wake,” said Cora. “He deserves it.”

In Wakefield's eight losses this season, Boston has scored a total of six runs while he was in those games. The Sox offense matched that total in the second inning, scoring six runs on six hits to power Boston to an 11-3 victory over the Washington Nationals last night. Boston banged out a season-high 17 hits and sent Nationals starter Livan Hernandez to the showers after just 1 2/3 innings of work, his shortest outing since July 3, 2002, when he was pitching for the San Francisco Giants.

Red Sox hitters had been providing Wakefield with just 3.10 runs per start entering last night's game, the second lowest total in the majors, but graced the knuckleballer with eight before he departed after six innings. Wakefield allowed one run (earned) on four hits, striking out four and walking one to improve to 5-8. He pitched out of a no-outs, bases loaded jam in the sixth, getting back-to-back strikeouts and a Robert Fick flyout to limit the damage to one run.

Wakefield was diplomatic about his lack of run support this season.

"I can't control that aspect of it,” he said. “I have to go out there and as a starter give good quality innings and keep us in the game as long as possible and that's what I've been doing. I was fortunate enough tonight that our offense exploded and we were able to score [eight] runs while I was in the game."

-- Wakefield has been battling a bad back and before the game Francona said he wanted to see how the knuckleballer felt after this start before making any roster moves. The team didn't announce any moves after the game, but Francona pronounced Wakefield fit to make his next start. He described Wakefield's condition as having a knot in his back. Wakefield said he felt good most of the night.

-- Making his second straight start at shortstop, Alex Cora went 3 for 3 with an RBI single, a walk, and three runs scored. He is now batting .304 for the season. "He's done a terrific job," said Francona. "Now, that he's played more the last month it's given us a really good combination at shortstop. I think the fact that he's faced some of the righties that have given [Alex Gonzalez] trouble and they're both swinging the bat now, I think it's been very useful."

-- Craig Hansen looked a little shaky in his return to the big league mound. The hard-throwing righthander entered the game in the eighth inning and allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits, while striking out two. Hansen ran into trouble in the ninth, when the Nationals sent seven batters to the plate and touched him for all three hits and both runs. Velocity, however, was not a problem for Hansen as his fastballs were clocked above 95 miles per hour.

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