With David Ortiz now on the disabled list, the Boston Red Sox still can't seem to piece together a fully healthy lineup.
Having Dustin Pedroia back, though, figures to help a group that's not exactly struggling - especially at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox expect their star second baseman to return Thursday night as they conclude a four-game set and their season series against the Chicago White Sox.
Boston (47-45) placed Ortiz (strained right Achilles) on the 15-day DL Wednesday, then proceeded to rout the White Sox 10-1 behind a pair of three-run homers from Cody Ross . Adrian Gonzalez had the other four RBIs, giving him nine along with seven hits in 12 at-bats through the first three games of this series.
In winning five of seven against Chicago (50-41) this year, the Red Sox have averaged 6.0 runs. They're batting .305 with 6.8 runs per game while going 10-6 at home over the past month.
Overall, they lead the majors with 465 runs.
"We've been scoring runs with guys on the disabled list and different lineups," manager Bobby Valentine said.
The 2008 AL MVP has struggled for much of this season with a right thumb injury, but Boston is hoping 15 days on the DL gave him enough time to heal.
"He said he was ready about four days ago," Valentine told the Red Sox's official website. "He's such an important part of our team, so much fun to watch play, that for his psyche as well as ours I hope he gets back in (Thursday)."
It's unclear how Valentine will handle the lineup with Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia all together for the first time in 2012, but Pedroia could slide into the No. 3 spot.
Then again, Ross did a pretty good job there Wednesday as he continues to pound left-handed pitching. Both of his homers came off rookie southpaw Pedro Hernandez and he added a double against left-handed reliever Hector Santiago , giving Ross 14 hits - eight homers - in his last 31 at-bats against lefties.
He'll get a chance to add to those totals Thursday against another rookie in Jose Quintana , who was hurt by the long ball in his most recent outing Friday. He allowed five runs and eight hits - two homers - in five innings of Chicago's 9-8, 14-inning win at Kansas City.
Quintana (4-1, 2.60 ERA) has provided an unexpected boost for the banged-up White Sox rotation, but he has given up 11 runs in 11 innings over his last two road starts.
Clay Buchholz (8-3, 5.54) will make his second start for Boston since a stint on the DL with esophagitis which caused internal bleeding.
He allowed four runs and lost to David Price and Tampa Bay on Saturday, but he carried a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning and struck out eight while yielding just three hits and one walk.
"I felt good," Buchholz said. "I felt rested, and I think that was the biggest thing."
The right-hander hasn't pitched against Chicago since 2010. The White Sox pounded him the first two times he faced them, but he posted a 2.08 ERA in two 2010 meetings.
|Alejandro De Aza||1||.000||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000|
|Chicago White Sox|
|July 08, 2012||Gavin Floyd||15-Day DL||Right elbow tendinitis|
|June 29, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Left game - upset stomach|
|June 25, 2012||Brian Bruney||15-Day DL||Left hip inflammation|
|June 24, 2012||Jesse Crain||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 17, 2012||Philip Humber||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 17, 2012||Philip Humber||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|Boston Red Sox|
|July 17, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right Achilles strain|
|July 14, 2012||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|July 04, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Jammed right thumb|
|July 04, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||15-Day DL||Jammed right thumb|
|July 03, 2012||Daisuke Matsuzaka||15-Day DL||Neck injury|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
BOSTON (AP) -- Cody Ross ' five-year old son stood behind him as he sat at a podium during a postgame interview session, triggering him to recall when he first started to enjoy hitting in the clutch.
"I've always wanted to be up in those situations since I was like my son's age," Ross said of his three-run homer in the ninth that lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night. "It's a great feeling, especially when you're the hero."
Ross' dramatic shot came one night after he hit three-run homers in consecutive innings of a 10-1 win.
Before the game, he was jokingly asked if there'd be a repeat performance.
"I thought it was kind of a dumb question, but I guess it wasn't," he said, smiling, with his blond-haired son, Hudson, just off to his left.
Boston took three of four games in the series and is 5-2 since the All Star break.
It was the fifth loss in 13 games for AL Central-leading Chicago, which opens three-game series at second-place Detroit on Friday night.
Boston's Clay Buchholz had a solid start, allowing one run, six hits, striking out six and walking one in eight innings. But he was set to be the loser until Ross' blast.
"I was sitting on the couch watching," he said. "He's been in big situations and is a guy that thrives in those situations most of the year."
When Ross reached home plate, he was met by Nick Punto , who tore his jersey.
"He was famous for that in St. Louis (last postseason)," Ross said. "I met the shredder."
While Buchholz had his own little celebration.
"I was running around the clubhouse," he said.
Matt Thornton (2-6) got one out, but left with runners on first and second before Addison Reed faced Ross, who hit a 1-1 pitch into the Green Monster seats.
Carl Crawford opened the ninth with a single, but was erased on Dustin Pedroia 's fielder's choice grounder. Adrian Gonzalez then singled to right before Reed came in. Just before the first pitch, Boston sent Punto in to pinch run, slowing Reed down a bit.
"You go back and forth and make decisions, figure them out," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of electing to open the inning with Thornton. "You got the two lefties coming up with Crawford and Gonzalez, so you know you know you still got Reeder out there if Ross and the rest of the righties come up."
Reed just felt he missed badly with the pitch.
"It was supposed to be a fastball away, and it just sailed over the middle of the plate and he got a good piece on it," he said.
Alfredo Aceves (1-6) pitched one inning for the win.
Chicago rookie left-hander Jose Quintana continued the impressive start to his career, pitching eight shutout innings.
Quintana held Boston to five hits, striking out two and not walking a batter in his 10th major-league start. The 23-year old has held opponents two runs or fewer in eight starts.
Buchholz had been given the second-most run support in the majors at 7.48 runs per nine innings - only behind teammate Felix Doubront 's 8.38 per - but the Red Sox couldn't solve the rookie lefty.
Boston was held to one hit until loading the bases with one out in the seventh on singles by Pedroia, Gonzalez and Ross. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez was leaning the wrong way on Will Middlebrooks ' liner, dove back, grabbed the ball on one hop and fired to second to start an inning-ending double play.
The White Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Adam Dunn drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on Paul Konerko 's single, barely beating right fielder Ross' throw. Alex Rios followed with his sacrifice fly to center and Dunn trotted home easily.
Unlike Wednesday night when the Red Sox pounded a rookie left-handed starter for eight runs, three homers and 12 hits in four innings, Boston had just Pedro Ciriaco 's two-out triple in the third.
Second baseman Pedroia returned from the 15-day disabled list after being out with a strained right thumb and went 1 for 4.
Chicago's Kevin Youkilis didn't play because of a tight left hamstring. He was 4 for 8 with a homer and three RBIs in his first series against his former team of 7 1-2 years since being traded on June 24.
NOTES: "Every once in a while it flares up on him," Ventura said of Youkilis' tight hamstring. "It flared up last night and we can give him the night off to get him ready for the weekend." It was the first time he hasn't played since being acquired from the Red Sox June 24. ... White Sox LHP John Danks , out with a mild muscle strain in his shoulder since May, played catch again Thursday and felt good, which is a lot different than a few weeks ago. "It would hurt for a couple of days after I did it then," he said. ... The Red Sox traded right-hander Justin Germano to the Chicago Cubs for cash. ... Ventura agreed that this weekend's series at Detroit is important. "It's a big series, but it's not going to win or break (our season)," he said. ... Right-handed hitting Kelly Shoppach was Boston's catcher for the second straight night with a lefty starter again. ... TV personality Joan Rivers was in the Monster seats.