Thursday August 22, 2013 | 02:23 AM

Felix Doubront improved to 9-6 with a 3.79 after going 8 innings in the Red Sox 12-1 win over San Francisco. His line: 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

With Doubront the Red Sox No. 4 pitcher, behind Lackey, Lester and Peavy, and with Boston enjoying days off today and Monday, there is no need for Ryan Dempster (6-9, 4.77) to hurry back from his suspension.

At least that appears to be the Red Sox thinking. Dempster is due back on Tuesday, but Boston has pushed back his next start to next Friday, Aug. 30.

Then will come the question: How long does Dempster stay in the rotation, if Clay Buchholz returns healthy and ready to go?

The current plan is for Buchholz to pitch for Lowell on Sunday. If all goes well, his next rehab start would be Friday, Aug. 30.

The next step would be another rehab (if one of Red Sox minor league teams is in the playoffs) or join the major league club. Guess whose place he would take in the rotation?

On Wednesday, Doubront got plenty of backing. Will Middlebrooks hit a home run to continue to hot streak since returning from Pawtucket: Batting .441 in 11 games with 3 doubles and 2 home runs.

The Orioles beat the Rays, pushing Boston back atop the standings:

Red Sox 75-54
Rays 72-53 (1 game back)
Orioles 68-58 (5.5)
Yankees 67-59 (6.5)

Pawtucket won. Allen Webster (3.90) went 5 2.3 innings: 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 K.

Left-hander Mickey Pena made his Double-A debut with the Sea Dogs look easy: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K ... catcher Christian Vazquez (.289) went 3-for-4. See today's story.

Of Portland's remaining 13 games, nine are with Trenton, the team the Sea Dogs are chasing for a playoff berth. Portland is in Trenton tonight with Henry Owens on the mound.

EL East Wild Card Race
Trenton 67-62
New Hampshire 63-65 (3.5 games back)
Portland 62-67 (5)
New Britain 60-70 (7.5)



About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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