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Lugo could be secret weapon

Lugo could be secret weapon

BOSTON -- Perhaps lost amid the shuffle during a wild Thursday night at Fenway Park was the resurgence of Julio Lugo.

Though the shortstop had been activated from the disabled list on April 27, it took a while for Lugo to make an impact. Considering he was coming off right knee surgery, that shouldn't have been a surprise.

In Boston's 13-3 thrashing of the Indians on Thursday, Lugo was in the middle of everything, scoring three times, getting three hits and ripping a double from the leadoff spot.

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Though Jacoby Ellsbury is likely to be back at the top of Boston's lineup on Friday, Lugo could be a big boost to the lower portion of the lineup if he can keep taking good swings.

Did Lugo rush back because the team's other shortstop -- Jed Lowrie -- was also on the disabled list?

"I came in and tried to do my best," Lugo said. "It doesn't matter who is hurt or who's not. You want to come back and play as soon as possible. You take your time and try to be 100 percent, and that's what we're doing right now."

Before reentering the lineup on Thursday, Lugo had received three successive days off from manager Terry Francona.

"I'm just getting ready, day by day," Lugo said. "I come and work out, practice at the same time and try to be ready for my time."

"He looks like he has spent time working hard," Francona said. "He looks stronger and it's early, but he has taken some pretty aggressive swings."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Brad Penny (2-1, 7.61 ERA)
Though Penny took his first loss in his last start, it was probably his most solid outing of the season. The right-hander turned in a quality performance against the Rays, giving up six hits and three runs over six innings while walking three and striking out eight. Opponents are hitting .303 against Penny. This is his third start at Fenway. Penny has allowed five homers on the season.

TB: RHP James Shields (3-2, 3.51 ERA)
Shields will be facing the Red Sox for the second sucessive time on Friday night. His previous time against them, he got the win after giving up two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. The 27-year-old walked two, struck out six and finished throwing 102 pitches -- 65 for strikes. Going into that start, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for Shields, as he gave up a run and had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning. But he got out of that inning unscathed and settled down very nicely thereafter. During his next six full innings, Shields -- who threw 30 pitches in the first -- allowed just three baserunners, with only one of them getting in scoring position.

Tidbits
David Ortiz, who missed Thursday's game with a stiff neck, is hoping to return to the lineup. ... The Red Sox are expected to again be without cleanup man Kevin Youkilis, who has a sore left side. ... Jason Bay has homered in three of the past four games. ... Francona is one victory shy of trying Bill Carrigan for third on the team's all-time list.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 2-2, 5.11) vs. Rays (Scott Kazmir, 3-3, 6.00), 3:40 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 3-2, 6.75) vs. Rays (Matt Garza, 3-2, 3.51), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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