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Beckett fans seven over six frames in win

The Red Sox hope that Josh Beckett returns to form in the rubber match against the Rangers on Wednesday at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Boston stopped a four-game losing skid on Tuesday when Mike Aviles drove in the winning run in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win. Texas took the opener, 9-1, on Monday.

Beckett has struggled this season, with a 5-8 record and 4.53 ERA in 16 starts. The right-hander has been hurt by the first inning, with a 10.69 ERA in the opening frame. He's allowed 10 runs in the first inning over his last three outings.

"Other than some first-inning woes, he's actually thrown the ball pretty well," said pitching coach Bob McClure. "We're not trying to change a lot as far as his routine. I think it's more execution of pitches, getting them down in the zone, getting ahead of the hitters and keeping the ball down more in that first inning. As he works into the other innings, he's getting the ball down and changing speeds, and things work out."

While the Sox need Beckett to start pitching like the ace he's capable of being, the Rangers want Derek Holland to step up with Colby Lewis out for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.

Holland is scheduled to start on Wednesday. He has some big shoes to fill, though. Lewis anchored the rotation and was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA.

"I'm fully aware of that," Holland said. "It's sad to see what's going on with Colby, but we've got to keep it going. I feel I have to step up big time and help the rotation. It's a little frustrating losing Colby. He's a big-game pitcher. We have to step up and fill those shoes."

The left-hander is capable of making up for Lewis' loss. He's 6-5 in 14 starts with 67 strikeouts. Holland was hit hard by the Angels in his last outing, though, allowing six runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Red Sox: Crawford slides down in lineup
• Carl Crawford batted seventh in manager Bobby Valentine's lineup on Tuesday for the first time since making his season debut last Monday. The outfielder was batting second since returning from an elbow injury.

The manager said the motive behind the shuffle was that the Red Sox were facing a left-hander in Martin Perez. Boston faces another lefty on Wednesday, and Crawford could hit seventh again.

"Put him in a place he was comfortable with last year and, you know, he has all of about 15 at-bats against left-handers this whole year," Valentine said. "Until he gets real comfortable with it, [I want to keep him lower]. I talked to Carl about it actually, and it seemed to make sense to him and it made sense to me. You know, rather than rush it, just let it come to us."

Crawford went 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Tuesday. He's hitting .241 with no homers and one RBI in eight games this season.

• Brent Lillibridge was traded to the Indians for Minor League pitcher Jose De La Torre on Tuesday, eight days after Boston designated the utility man for assignment.

Lillibridge was one of the players the Sox acquired in the trade that sent Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox.

Boston assigned De La Torre, 26, to Triple-A Pawtucket. This year, he is 8-1 with two saves and a 2.91 ERA in 34 games at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.

Rangers: Ogando could join rotation
• The Rangers are entertaining the idea of returning reliever Alexi Ogando to the rotation to help fill the void left by Lewis.

"That's something that we've discussed," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If we do that, we've got to find a way to get him stretched out."

Texas chose Scott Feldman to fill Lewis' spot in the rotation. Rookie Martin Perez, who started against the Red Sox on Tuesday, will shift to the bullpen. Feldman limited the Sox to one run in seven innings in a 9-1 victory on Monday. The right-hander is scheduled to pitch again on Monday against the Angels.

The Rangers will wait until after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline before deciding whether or not to move Ogando into the rotation.

"That's my wish, you know that," Ogando said. "I'd like to start."

• Ian Kinsler was ejected from Tuesday's loss in the first inning by first-base umpire Tim Tschida after getting picked off by Boston starter Clay Buchholz. It was the second baseman's second ejection this season.

Buchholz picked Kinsler off after he was hit by a pitch, Tschida called him out and Kinsler objected. That resulted in a quick ejection.

Alberto Gonzalez took over at second base, his first action since July 3. Kinsler's other ejection was on June 14 against Arizona.

Worth noting
• The Red Sox are 21-11 when facing a left-handed starter this season.

• Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is 8-for-17 (.471) in his career against Beckett with two homers and seven RBIs. Comments