Plate discipline, according to Francona, has been key.
"Staying back is awfully easy to say, but keeping your head still is the foremost thing," Francona said before Tuesday's game. "If your head's still, there's a pretty good chance you're seeing the ball. Like [Monday] night, they threw him about five straight fastballs [letter-high], and he didn't swing. And then he got one he could handle, and he hit a line drive with it. He didn't chase the ball up out of the zone. I think that's a by-product of him seeing the ball pretty well."
Entering Tuesday, Lugo had at least one hit in five straight games, with three doubles, six RBIs and three runs.
"Early in the season, I think you would see him get out in front, foul it over our dugout or chase a ball out of the zone and be 0-2 instead of 3-1. I think it all comes hand in hand," Francona said.
Lugo's struggles in June and early July, as he endured a 3-for-46 slump, are well documented.
"He was frustrated, as I think we all would be," Francona said. "I don't know how you don't [get frustrated] when you're struggling, but he stayed at it, and he didn't quit on himself, and that makes it a heck of a lot easier not to quit on him from where I'm sitting."
Remembering Scooter: Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky had unique perspective on the passing of Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto on Tuesday. Pesky played against Rizzuto's Yankees teams for the better part of two decades in the 1940s and '50s.
"That's sad, sad news," Pesky said. "He was a fine man. I'll miss him. He was always a great ballplayer and really a joy to be around. He was a big part of those Yankee teams, a shortstop who could hit and field, and he stayed close to that team after he retired. He was a tremendous personality."
The Red Sox paid tribute to Rizzuto with a moment of silence before the game.
Crisp is back: After missing Sunday's and Monday's games due to a virus that weakened him, Coco Crisp was back in the starting lineup on Tuesday, playing center field and batting eighth.
"Everything came back as hoped," said Francona. "It was a virus. I think his legs are still a little sore, but I talked to him at about 1 [p.m. ET] and he said, 'I'm fine to play.'
"I told him, 'If you show up and you change your mind, or the trainers do, we'll take you out.' But I don't think that's going to happen."
Donnelly surgery a success: Reliever Brendan Donnelly had successful Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on Tuesday morning by renowned surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum in California. Donnelly, who will head home this week to rest, is expected to rejoin the team in several weeks for a followup examination. He was well enough to let his manager know that he'd made it through the surgery.
"His text [message] said he came through it great and he's just going to go rest," Francona said. "He was just a little groggy, but he sent a real quick message saying, 'I made it.' He's OK, which I really appreciated a lot."
Wait and see: The Red Sox want to see how their pitching staff makes it through the series with the Devil Rays before finalizing their rotation for the four-game weekend series with the Angels, which includes a day-night doubleheader on Friday.
"That'll be up to [general manager] Theo [Epstein]," Francona said. "Whenever he tells me to. Although some of it depends on how we get there. We've got a day game [on Wednesday]. If we [use someone from the bullpen], it's a little easier. If we don't, you've got to make a [roster] move. I don't know when we would do that, if that's the route we go. With the day off Thursday, I just don't know."
There has been speculation that the team could bring up hot right-handed prospect Clay Buchholz to make one of the two starts on Friday. The team would need to free up a roster spot if they decide to give Buchholz his big league debut.
Coming up: Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-8, 3.59 ERA) makes his third start against Tampa Bay when he takes the hill in Wednesday's matinee finale of the three-game series with the Devil Rays. Matsuzaka is 1-1 with a 1.26 ERA against the Rays this season, including an eight-inning shutout performance on July 3. The Rays counter with right-hander Andy Sonnanstine (1-8, 6.35). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.