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Red Sox notebook

Switch to night game gives champs their day

Darnell McDonald makes a leaping catch to rob Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce in the sixth inning. Darnell McDonald makes a leaping catch to rob Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce in the sixth inning. (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 17, 2011

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — At the request of Mayor Thomas Menino, the Red Sox have moved tomorrow’s game against Milwaukee to 7:10 p.m. to accommodate the Bruins parade.

The game was originally scheduled for a 1:10 p.m. start, the same time the parade to honor the Stanley Cup champions will be making its way from TD Garden to Copley Square. City officials, worried about the events causing congestion, asked the Sox to move their game back.

Because of Major League Baseball’s exclusivity agreement with Fox for the afternoon time slot, the only choice was to play the game at night. Gates A and D will open at 5:10 p.m. with the remaining gates opening 30 minutes later.

The Red Sox will pay tribute to the Bruins at Fenway Park Sunday.

McDonald contributes Darnell McDonald was activated off the disabled list Tuesday and last night played in his first game since May 25. He played a role in a 4-2 victory against the Rays.

McDonald was only 1 for 5 but hit the ball hard three times. He had an RBI single in the second inning and later scored a run. He also made a nice catch in the sixth inning, chasing down a ball hit by Matt Joyce at the fence.

“Busy day. It’s nice to contribute,’’ said McDonald, who hit leadoff and started in center field.

McDonald was put on the DL with what the team said was a strained quadriceps. He started a rehab assignment with Pawtucket shortly after and played well in nine games.

“Now he comes back up and he’s actually in the flow of playing and he played a pretty good game,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Good for us and good for him.’’

Ellsbury gets a rest Jacoby Ellsbury played just 18 games last season, his season essentially wasted by fractured ribs. A year later, it’s news when Ellsbury isn’t in the starting lineup.

For only the fourth time this season, and the first time since April 19, Ellsbury was not in the starting lineup. Francona started McDonald in center field against lefthander David Price. Mike Cameron was in right. Ellsbury hit for Cameron with one out in the eighth, flying to left against righthander Joel Peralta.

Francona said he “wrestled’’ with the decision and spent a lot of time talking it over with bench coach DeMarlo Hale.

“He wanted to play. I just thought he’s been beating himself up; we’re going to get [back to Boston] late. Just thought it would be a good night. Wanted to play Cam and Mac, so kind of just think overall it’s in [Ellsbury’s] best interest . . . I think it will be good for him,’’ the manager said.

Ellsbury went into the game hitting .314 with an .844 OPS.

“He’s been tremendous. He wants to play every day, you can tell. He’s done everything we could have asked,’’ Francona said. “It’s impressive. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we’re playing better. He’s setting the table, he’s driving runs in, he’s playing defense, he’s doing everything.’’

Ellsbury is 24 of 33 in stolen base attempts. He leads the league in both steals and times caught. But Francona is not too worried about it.

“We’ve tried to encourage them to go ahead and go and not look over their shoulder if they get thrown out because it is such a weapon for is. We can live with them getting thrown out. As long as the timing is right, and Jacoby is really good about that.’’

The Red Sox have viewed stolen bases as an acceptable risk if their runners were successful 75 percent of the time. Anything less was considered being too wasteful of outs based on the studies they had done.

The acceptable percentage, Francona said, has gone down. With runs harder to come by, base stealing is seen as a more viable weapon.

Resolution looms Jonathan Papelbon is waiting for Major League Baseball to hear the appeal on his three-game suspension for bumping umpire Tony Randazzo June 4. The Sox have the option of seeing the appeal through or dropping it and controlling when Papelbon serves his time.

“I do think probably in the near future we’re going to hear something. I think we’re getting closer,’’ Francona said.

The punishment was handed down June 7. Papelbon appealed immediately and picked up a save against the Yankees that night. He’s appeared in only two of the eight games since, picking up his 13th save last night.

National news The Brewers make a rare visit to Fenway Park as a three-game series starts tonight. Since joining the National League in 1998, the Brewers have played only three games in Boston. Those came in 2008 when the Sox swept an interleague series. The Brewers are 39-31 this season but only 14-22 away from Miller Park . . . The Sox have won 11 of their last 12 games and are now 22-14 on the road . . . Daniel Bard has thrown nine scoreless innings in his last eight appearances . . . The Sox have won 11 straight games started by an opposing lefthander, the longest streak in the American League since the Angels in 2009 . . . Carl Crawford is 3 for 18 against the Rays, his former team . . . Coaching staff assistant Rob Leary may visit Fenway Park today. He has been away from the team recovering from hip replacement surgery . . . As the Bruins celebrated their championship back in Boston, some of the well-rested Tampa Bay Lightning were at Tropicana Field and took batting practice before the game. Nate Thompson, Teddy Purcell, Steven Stamkos, and Mike Smith also threw out first pitches.

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

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