Ryan Lavarnway gets call at catcher

BALTIMORE -- Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona is sticking with the hot hand behind the plate for Wednesday night's do-or-die game No. 162 against the Baltimore Orioles, starting Ryan Lavarnway at catcher after the rookie homered twice in Tuesday night's victory.

The 24-year-old batted fifth in his second career start behind the plate. The game is the biggest of the season for the Red Sox, who entered play Wednesday tied for the wild-card lead with the Tampa Bay Rays, who faced the New York Yankees on Wednesday in their regular season finale.

Red Sox catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia (collarbone) and Jason Varitek (knee) are banged up, though Francona said Wednesday that Saltalamacchia is available to play.

"Salty could go, but I don't think he's close to 100 percent, but we've got a kid that drove in four runs and caught a pretty good game, feels good about himself and (Jon) Lester is OK with him catching," Francona said. "Rather than go the other way where Salty starts and then we bring the kid in, I think we're better off doing it this way.

"This kid played a pretty good game last night."

Francona informed both Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway of the decision following Tuesday's game.

"Right now what we do as a team is so much more important than what happens individually," Francona said. "(Saltalamacchia) sees that more than anybody. This is a good kid we're talking about."

Lester was on the mound for the Red Sox, pitching on three days' rest.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.