That meant a second consecutive night off for David Ortiz, who will return on Friday night against Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie.
Did Francona consider putting Ortiz back in there on Thursday?
"There's a lot of thought about a lot of things," Francona said. "But if we play David, the guy who hit the homer last night wouldn't have played. No, I think our lineup's a good lineup tonight. He'll be back in there tomorrow."
Lowell, an everyday player throughout his career, has done his best to stay sharp for the occasions Francona calls on him.
"He's done fine; he takes his ground balls at first, he takes his ground balls at third," Francona said. "He's done a good job. I don't think that anybody claimed this would be very easy, or that this was what his goal was. We understand that. But it can't always be perfect for everybody. We understand that. If we win and we play well, you'll hear much less griping than if we're losing."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.