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TEX@NYY: Phelps tops Rangers in rain-shortened start

BOSTON --- In the last week, Clay Buchholz has watched the Red Sox rotation take on a drastically different shape. First, Jake Peavy was sent to the Giants, then Jon Lester to the A's and John Lackey to the Cardinals.

So now Buchholz is by far the longest-tenured Red Sox pitcher on the starting staff. The righty will go for Boston on Sunday night at Fenway Park in the rubber game against the Yankees, who will send David Phelps to the mound.

"It is an opportunity for him to grow into being more of a leader. One of the greatest ways to do that is to go out and do your job first and foremost," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Clay has shown since the DL stint that he can do that. He also does provide a lot of experience -- especially against teams in this division. He can lend first-hand experience to some of the younger guys. I think he'll relish that role."

Buchholz struggled for the first two months of the season before hitting the disabled list with a hyperextended knee at the end of May. He threw a three-hit shutout prior to the All-Star break, but has posted a 7.94 ERA and .903 OPS against over his last three outings. Farrell said Buchholz hasn't found his fastball command at times, causing him to rely on his secondary pitches too early and often.

In his first five starts after coming off the DL, Buchholz walked just one batter. Over his last two starts, though, he's walked eight.

"Last two times out, there was a willingness to try to use his curveball and his changeup a little bit too much -- and it resulted in some walks," Farrell said. "We're looking forward to him getting back to what I think will be a normal Clay Buchholz-type approach."

Phelps, meanwhile, has posted a 3.89 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 25 appearances (16 starts) this season. The righty allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his five starts in July.

The only poor outing Phelps had in July was on Monday, when he allowed four runs on eight hits over six innings against the Rangers. But through four frames, he cruised until the Rangers put four on the board in the fifth.

"It honestly just hit me that it all happened with two outs," Phelps said. "That's incredibly frustrating. Thinking back, they weren't bad pitches -- they weren't the right pitches. It's frustrating. As a team, we put up seven zeros, and then a four spot. [When you're] facing a guy like [Yu] Darvish, it's tough."

Red Sox: Butler gets opportunity after Ross goes on DL
The Red Sox placed catcher David Ross on the disabled list on Saturday after he exited Friday night's game with a recurrence of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Dan Butler was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his spot.

Boston signed Butler as an undrafted free agent out of the Cape Cod League in 2009. Reaching the Major Leagues would be challenging for Butler, if not a pipe dream. Organizations will often give opportunities to players they drafted high or have invested money in first.

"I think, at first, I just wanted a chance to play. When I signed, that's what I told myself, 'I just want an opportunity,'" Butler said. "Then, you start to play in the Minor Leagues a little bit and know it's like, 'This is something that could really be something. I can do this. I'm not just doing this just to have fun. This is something that I can do and I will do.'"

Butler, 27, said he's not sure how much he'll play with Christian Vazquez ahead of him. Ross, who had been splitting time about 50/50 with Vazquez since A.J. Pierzynski was designated for assignment in early July, hasn't hit well this year, batting .192/.255/.384 in 40 games. He has been valuable as a game manager behind the plate, though.

Butler is hitting .227/.306/.338 in 76 games for Pawtucket this season. The PawSox removed him from Friday night's game, following Ross's exit from Boston's game after he re-aggravated his foot while running out a ground ball in the sixth inning.

"How quick things can happen in this game -- and how quickly it did happen from last night," Butler said of what he's learned over the last few years. "I was getting ready to play the Columbus Clippers today. But to get called out of the game, and now I'm here, talking to you guys in a Major League clubhouse with the Boston Red Sox."

Yankees: Beltran can ease back into outfield
The Yankees got some outfield help with the acquisition of Martin Prado on Thursday, so there's no reason to rush Carlos Beltran back into right field.

Beltran hasn't played the field since May 12 because of a bone spur in his right elbow. He'll continue to throw lightly and has progressed to throwing 100-120 feet. Prado hasn't played much right field in his career, but with Brett Gardner in left and Jacoby Ellsbury in center, there's not a whole lot of room out there.

"We have more options -- we were carrying three outfielders for a while there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Carlos was the fourth, and then we were running infielders out there.

"But with Martin, who's played a lot of outfield, and then having [Ichiro Suzuki] too -- we'll make sure [Beltran is] ready when he goes out there."

Prado went 1-for-3 with a walk on Saturday. Ichiro replaced him in right field for defensive purposes in the ninth inning.

Worth noting

• Yankees righty Michael Pineda will make a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. He's scheduled to throw 60-65 pitches. He's been on the disabled list since May 6 with a right shoulder strain, and hasn't pitched since April 23 because of a 10-game suspension for using pine tar on the mound.

Pineda threw 45 pitches during a simulated game on Tuesday and came through without any problems. The 25-year-old has a 1.83 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in four starts this season and could return to the Yankees rotation by mid-August.

• Allen Craig was out of the Red Sox's starting lineup on Saturday against the Yankees after going 1-for-4 in his debut on Friday night.

"In that final at-bat last night, he turned his ankle a little bit when he hit the bag," Farrell said. "The plan was for [Daniel] Nava to be in the lineup today, regardless. This will give a day or so for him to address some of that."

• Play-by-play man Dan Shulman and color commentator John Kruk will call Sunday night's game from atop the Green Monster for ESPN. The duo broadcast a game from the Wrigley Field bleachers in May.

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