No looking back for Lackey


TORONTO -- Looking for a season-high eighth straight victory, the Boston Red Sox turned to John Lackey on Saturday afternoon in his second outing since a strained right elbow sent him to the disabled-list.

Lackey probably didn’t want to think too long or hard about his last outing in these parts.

A month to the day ago, May 11, Lackey was saddled with all nine runs for his 6 2/3-inning contribution to a 9-3 loss to the Jays. After an off-day, the Red Sox, then 17-20, headed to New York for what would become the first of their two somewhat historical three-game sweeps in the Bronx. Lackey, meanwhile, following his third straight loss, headed for the DL.

He returned last Sunday, collecting the 6-3 win against Oakland when he allowed a season-low three hits over 5 2/3 innings -- but also matched a career-high with three hit batsmen. The showers beckoned after 93 pitches and Lackey seemed a tad dismayed by it all.

“He can only throw so much right now,” said an understanding Terry Francona before Saturday’s quick-turnaround matinee. “You can’t do it all [bounce back] in one start or one side.

“When a pitcher’s down for two weeks or whatever, you don’t have him back to throw 120 pitches.

“It’s not like it’s spring training for him but you’ve still got to be a little patient,” added the Red Sox manager. “You want him to go back out each start with the ability to have the same stuff every time out.”

The Sox, who trimmed the Jays 5-1 Friday night after getting to their Toronto hotel at 6:30 that morning (because of that monster rain delay in New York Thursday), were obviously better rested Saturday -- but the challenge clearly beckoned.

“[Saturday’s] the day guys could be dragging a bit,” said Dustin Pedroia after Friday’s win. “We have to find a way to keep the energy going.”

Pedroia, who missed Thursday’s finale in New York while he had his sore right knee checked out in Boston, was relieved to hear it was only a bruised kneecap and responded with a 3-for-4 Friday.

“I think this [the knee] was weighing on him a little bit,” said Francona. “That’s why we wanted to get him back in there so much and this is what we hoped would happen ... that he could have a good exam and he could come back and be Pedey.”

Notes: Kevin Youkilis got the day off, spelled at third by Jed Lowrie, while Marco Scutaro handled shortstop. “He’s just a little beat up,” said Francona. “You know, day game after a night game, all that diving around. He’ll come back [Sunday], then with another off-day [Monday] it’ll be really good for him.”

Reliever Bobby Jenks, on the DL for a second time (this for tightness in his back), was supposed to join the team in Toronto but had problems getting a flight out of Boston and will, instead, catch up in Tampa Bay. The manager said Jenks had been working at Fenway the last couple of days and, while he couldn’t quite recall the terminology medical staff had given him on Jenks’ condition, he allowed that it “backed up the point that it’s nothing serious.”