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BOS@NYY: Doubront fans eight over 6 1/3 solid innings

In search of their first win in August, the Red Sox know they have much work to do in the last two months of the season.

Though they're nine games behind the American League East-leading Yankees, the Red Sox are still within striking distance of one of the two available AL Wild Card spots. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia sees it as an uphill battle, but as long as they play to their capabilities, one they can climb.

"We don't expect to win every game from here on out, but we have to win every series, that's something we have to do. Every win counts, especially at this point," Saltalamacchia said. "We just have to continue to grind, we have a lot of games left against our division."

Hoping to even up the series against the Twins, the Red Sox will send left-hander Felix Doubront to the hill. In five career starts against the AL Central, Doubront is 5-0 with a 2.97 ERA (10 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings).

Though he did not factor in the decision in his last start on July 29 against the Yankees, Doubront allowed one run on four hits and five walks, while striking out eight over 6 1/3 innings, as the Red Sox won, 3-2, in 10 innings. It was his team-leading 11th quality start of the season.

"Felix was great," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said after his last start. "For a guy that some people thought shouldn't have been pitching in this big series, he pitched his heart out. I don't know how he could pitch any better."

Dubront's counterpart on Friday will be Twins left-hander Brian Duensing, who allowed five hits in six strong innings to beat the Indians in his last start.

Duensing started in place of the traded Francisco Liriano in his last outing and didn't find out he was taking the hill on Sunday until the night before -- via Twitter. People were wishing him luck and he didn't know why.

"I was thinking, 'I don't know when I'm going to throw. This is kind of weird,'" Duensing said. "So I checked the Twins' website and saw [Francisco] Liriano was traded and that I was starting."

Twins: Plouffe won't play against Sox
• While rehabbing his bruised right thumb, third baseman Trevor Plouffe did not make the trip to Boston, though he could play in Cleveland.

Plouffe is eligible to return from the disabled list on Sunday. He injured his thumb when he was jammed by a pitch against the Royals on July 20. Twins assistant general manager Rob Anthony said he could rejoin the club following the series against the Red Sox, though he could be sent on a rehab assignment before that happens.

Red Sox: Ortiz could be back soon
• Though he's still a few days away from being activated after straining his right Achilles tendon, David Ortiz performed agility drills on the field at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Ortiz did some light jogging, shuffling and stretching in right field before the series opener against the Twins, but he still needs to do more strenuous power running drills before playing again. The plan is to begin those drills in three to four days, with a possible return date after this weekend.

"It all depends on how I feel and if I can handle it for a couple of days. They might give me the green light," Ortiz said. "But, we got to get there first. We got to wait to see how it feels [Friday], because as you add different drills, you either get sore or you start loosening up."

Worth noting
• The Twins' win on Thursday was their first against the Red Sox this season and second shutout in seven games. They had been 0-3 against Boston before the win, having allowed 24 runs against the Red Sox this season before shutting them out on Thursday.

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