BOSTON -- Third baseman Kevin Youkilis was again bothered by his left hip on Saturday, when he was pinch-run for in the Red Sox's 2-0 loss to the Mariners after hitting a seventh-inning double.

Youkilis will likely sit out Sunday in a day game after a night game.

"It's all right," said Youkilis. "It's a little tight and hopefully another night it'll be a little better."

"It's the same hip," said manager Terry Francona. "It got stiff again. We're going to have to check him out again. We don't want it to linger, and I don't think it will as long as we keep an eye on it."

Youkilis' hip became sore Thursday in a 6-2 win over the Orioles, when he tweaked it while sliding into second base during the first inning.

Francona thought Dustin Pedroia may have tweaked something on Saturday, too, but the manager said his second baseman was fine.

"He said he didn't. I thought he did, too," Francona said. "I went out to check on him. He said he was fine."

Dice-K feeling better, expects to make next start

BOSTON -- There was something noticeably off with Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth inning Friday in a 5-4 loss to the Mariners. Catcher Jason Varitek jumped out to the mound, and the radar readings showed that Dice-K's velocity was dipping.

But a day later after being removed with right elbow tightness, Matsuzaka appears to be on course to make his next start, though it's not clear yet when that will be.

"He was examined fairly extensively last night after he came out and actually did really well, so that's good," manager Terry Francona said Saturday. "He's going about his normal Day 1 activities. Certainly we want to keep an eye on him, but hopefully we just overreacted. Again, we talked about it last night. It's a little bit hard not to."

Matsuzaka's next scheduled start would have been Wednesday against the Angels at Fenway Park, but Boston's rotation isn't set beyond the next two days. Clay Buchholz, Sunday's scheduled starter, has been pushed back to Monday because of a stomach ailment, and Tim Wakefield will start instead on Sunday.

Entering Friday, Dice-K had thrown back-to-back gems. He wasn't as sharp, though, even before his mechanics appeared to be out of whack, finishing with one earned run allowed in four-plus innings. In the fifth, the five pitches he threw to Ichiro Suzuki were between 85-87 mph, lower than Matsuzaka's usual fastball velocity.

"Hopefully that's what it was, just kind of a bad day and move on," Francona said. "I think that's what Daisuke thinks, and the trainers have said nothing different. They are actually very upbeat about this, so that's good."

Driving home runs not a problem for Adrian

BOSTON -- The Red Sox entered Saturday carrying the fifth worst average (.222) with runners in scoring position in the Majors. Their strikeout total (58) in the same situation was the fourth worst.

Those aren't good signs. But they're also from a small sample size -- and therefore likely to pick up as the season wears on -- and it's not as though the team isn't aware it's performed poorly. Manager Terry Francona said situational hitting is "something we drastically want to improve on," and that it starts with the approach at the plate.

One hitter who executed that approach better than anyone in the Majors last season was Adrian Gonzalez, who had a .407 RISP average while with the Padres.

This year, the first baseman is the only Red Sox hitter who is above .300 with runners in scoring position, and that's selling him short -- he's nearly at .400. Gonzalez has a .393 average, .452 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in those prime run-scoring situations.

"Earlier in my career I always tried to hit that two-run, three-run homer," Gonzalez said on Saturday. "Now I'm just like, got a runner in scoring position, get the runner in [or to] third, whether it's a sac fly, ground ball or take your base hit. Don't over-swing."

When he was with the Padres, Gonzalez didn't have much protection in the lineup and said he wasn't seeing many meaty pitches. That presented a learning curve he said he adjusted to a couple years ago. The goal no longer was to go deep, or even to drive the ball, but simply to zone in on the one hittable pitch he may see in an at-bat.

"Especially because being in San Diego, it was really hard for me to get a pitch to hit in those situations," said Gonzalez. "It really taught me to focus on what pitch you're going to swing at. You almost take a conscious, somewhat of a two-strike approach from the start of the at-bat, with the mentality that you can take two strikes and you're still good. You just look for that pitch, and you just take your base hit ... whether it's pulled, away, up the middle, whatever."

Of late, Gonzalez has hit in all situations. His average is up to a team-leading .314, and he has hits in 13 of his last 14 games. With a first-inning single, Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to seven games.

Boston batters running hot and cold early on

BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury's found a groove, but Kevin Youkilis is still looking for his, and Dustin Pedroia, who was so hot during the Red Sox's first homestand, has fallen cold.

Ellsbury is hitting .389 (14-for-36) over an eight-game hitting streak he carried into Saturday night's game with the Mariners at Fenway Park. That's the longest streak for any Red Sox hitter so far, and it's kept him at the top of the lineup, a spot he was removed from earlier in the season.

"It's a short, quick stroke," manager Terry Francona said. "He hasn't been afraid to hit deep into the count. There's been a few strikeouts because of it, but he's worked the count real well."

Ellsbury, who walked in his first plate appearance Saturday, had struck out 24 times entering the day, second most on the team to only Youkilis. Youkilis is hitting .213 on the season and just .136 off right-handers, but he's reached base in 15 of his last 18 games. He's in the top 10 in the American League in both walks and strikeouts, while carrying a .388 on-base percentage and .480 slugging percentage.

"The one saving grace when his average is really low, he's got a high on-base percentage," Francona said. "The flip side of that is he has struck out. He's swung at probably more pitches out of the zone early this year than we've seen in a while. Again, we depend on Youk so much for our offense. He's right smack in the middle. I'll bet my bottom dollar he'll be right where he's supposed to be. He's too good a hitter."

Francona didn't ignore the possibility that the surgery on Youkilis' right thumb that ended his 2011 could be playing a role, but he said his third baseman doesn't have a health concern.

"He missed some time," said Francona. "He's coming back. I wouldn't sit here and say -- he went through a surgery, but I don't think that it's something that's killing him or anything like that."

Pedroia is just 3-for-28 over his last seven games and went 7-for-33 on Boston's West Coast road trip. Batting .266 with a .381 on-base percentage, he's still reached base in 21 of 25 games.

"A little bit," Francona said when asked if Pedroia was frustrated. "But he expects so much out of himself that if he's 0-for-1, he's frustrated. That's just the way he's built."