Painful loss for Red Sox

Painful loss for Red Sox

BOSTON -- Not long ago, the Red Sox were happy and healthy. They operated in an alternate universe, unbothered by injuries, losses and the Yankees.

Friday's series-opening loss against New York created little more than a ripple in the standings. Certainly it gave Boston its third losing streak of the season (of exactly two games) but the Sox maintained a double-digit lead on the Bronx Bombers. They are in no danger there.

No, Friday's loss was notable because a Red Sox list of walking wounded, which had so far been limited to 41-year-old reliever Mike Timlin and a now-healthy Josh Beckett, suddenly materialized.

First, third baseman Mike Lowell took a Chien-Ming Wang fastball on the top of the left hand. It was the same place where he suffered a break in 2003, which limited him to 492 at-bats in his best season as a Florida Marlin.

Lowell left the game with a contusion, but X-rays turned up negative. "It could've been much worse," he said, adding that he hoped to play on Saturday.

"It hurt at the beginning," Lowell said, "but once the throbbing went away, it felt a little better. So I'd say it's a good bruise, but nothing to cry about."

In the top of the sixth, Wily Mo Pena replaced J.D. Drew, an outfielder with an injury history, in right. It was revealed that Drew had strained a hamstring.

"[When] I saw him talking to the trainer, I knew there was a problem," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "You get into an area where if somebody goes after a ball, runs down the line and pops their hamstring because I don't take them out, I'm going to have a hard time living with myself."

Until Drew is evaluated again, he will be day-to-day.

Neither Lowell's nor Drew's injuries typically result in extended absences or long DL stints. But both can be exceedingly uncomfortable over the long haul of a Major League season.

Whether Lowell's contusion affects his performance, which he has sustained at an All-Star level for two months, or Drew's hamstring plunges him deeper into his month-long slump, remains to be seen.

Kevin Youkilis did not leave the game after a Scott Proctor fastball grazed his left shoulder, apparently en route to his head.

It wasn't as if Youkilis didn't try to bow out early. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and Francona escorted him calmly to first, preventing a potential incident and an ejection.

Said Francona, "My responsibility is to keep him on the field and keep him in games."

Alex McPhillips in an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.