BOSTON -- Banged up as they are, the Red Sox were looking forward to getting Jed Lowrie back in the lineup for Game 2 of Monday's day-night doubleheader.
It didn't take long to see why. In his first at-bat since Sept. 13, Lowrie pummeled a three-run homer against Orioles lefty Brian Matusz in the bottom of the first inning. Just like that, a 3-1 Boston deficit turned into a 4-3 lead.
For Lowrie, it was a sign that his ailing left shoulder, which has bothered him on and off to varying degrees since late May, might finally be feeling a little better.
The switch-hitting infielder had a cortisone shot last week.
Lowrie's towering blast snapped an 84 at-bat homerless drought, dating back to Aug. 12.
With Kevin Youkilis out for an indefinite amount of time as he deals with a sports hernia injury, Lowrie's presence could be vital.
"You know what? I hope so," said manager Terry Francona. "And I hope we've waited long enough where when we get Jed back, [he'll be effective]. And especially against left-handers, he can be such a force, so hopefully that will be the case."
Stiff neck sidelines Crawford for twin bill
BOSTON -- After being scratched a half-hour before the start of Game 1 of Monday's day-night doubleheader vs. the Orioles with a stiff neck, left fielder Carl Crawford wasn't in the Red Sox's nightcap lineup.
"He took a swing -- it was actually the very first swing he took down in the cage [before Game 1]," said manager Terry Francona. "His neck just spasmed up. He tried to loosen it up. He kind of went about a normal day. It just wasn't happening. He was getting worse. I don't know. We'll see."
Crawford didn't play on Sunday, but he was a healthy scratch on a day ace lefty David Price was going for the Rays.
Crawford didn't show any signs of a stiff neck when he pinch-hit in Sunday's game, belting a double against J.P. Howell.
In his first season in Boston, Crawford has struggled mightily, hitting .255 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs.
Darnell McDonald replaced Crawford in the lineup in Game 1 and batted ninth. Conor Jackson started the nightcap in left, while McDonald played right against lefty starter Brian Matusz.
Drew to meet with Red Sox's medical staff
BOSTON -- J.D. Drew hasn't been heard from in nearly two months because of one injury after another. However, the right fielder might finally make some forward progress, pending an appointment with the team's medical staff at some point on Monday.
Originally sidelined with a left shoulder impingement that put him on the disabled list on July 26, Drew was nearly set to return to the Sox, only to suffer a break in his right middle finger in a Minor League rehab game on Aug. 30.
A few days ago, Drew was stalled by a stiff neck. His finger is the main issue though, and that's why he'll get a progress report on it.
"We might have him be able to see a doctor and look at the stability in that joint there, and maybe move forward a little bit, but we'll see," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Wheeler dealing with forearm stiffness
BOSTON -- Wondering why Dan Wheeler hasn't pitched for the Red Sox since Sept. 7? The righty reliever has been dealing with forearm stiffness.
"He had some forearm stiffness," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We tried to stay away from him ... well we did stay away from him for a few days. He started to, I think, come through, and hopefully you'll see him in a game pretty soon."
Is Monday's doubleheader too soon?
"Probably," Francona said. "We'll see how he feels."