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Hope fading for Crawford's return
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published September 24, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Carl Crawford missed his sixth straight game Sunday and manager Joe Maddon sounded much less optimistic about his leftfielder's return this season from a left groin strain.
"I'm not so sure right now he's going to be able to do this," Maddon said. "We're a little bit hopeful for the first game back Tuesday, but it just doesn't seem like it's going anywhere we need it to go for him to participate right now. We'll look at it again after the day off, but I'm not anticipating he will be able to play."
Maddon even shied away from using Crawford as a pinch-hitter or defensive substitution, not wanting to risk rushing him back.
"He's made progress, but it's just not to the point where he feels comfortable with it," Maddon said.
The Rays open a three-game series Tuesday against the Yankees at Tropicana Field and end the season with a weekend series at Toronto.
ACTION JACKSON: RHP Edwin Jackson got his first win in a month, snapping a three-game skid by holding the Red Sox to one hit over his first five innings.
"You can see the velocity," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It's always been there. He used his changeup to get us enough off his fastball."
But Jackson allowed six of seven batters to reach in the sixth in a three-run rally, including run-scoring singles by David Ortiz and Coco Crisp that sandwiched a bases-loaded walk to J.D. Drew, before Jon Switzer induced an inning-ending double play. "You look at that inning itself, he didn't get smoked," Maddon said.
After pitching to a 2.45 ERA in August, Jackson entered Sunday 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA in September, allowing at least seven runs in three of his first four starts this month.
"I played with the kid in L.A.," Boston 2B Alex Cora said. "There was a reason they blocked every trade, because of his potential. He reminds me a lot of those young guys in Detroit 2-3 years ago that lost 15, 18, 19 games. He's very close to finding it."
REYES' REDEMPTION: Less than 24 hours after blowing his third save against the Red Sox this season, closer Al Reyes retired Boston in order in the ninth inning for his 25th save.
"After having a bad outing, I want to get the ball the next day," Reyes said. "I want to get it back. Today, I was very excited with the way the game was going and I was looking for a chance to get into the game."
He said it was especially rewarding to retire pinch-hitter Jason Varitek, who hit a tying homer off Reyes Saturday night, for the last out of the game.
"I looked back at the tape," Reyes said. "Today I told myself that I need to make my pitches on this guy now."
MISCELLANY: 2B Brendan Harris missed his fifth consecutive game with a strained left lat muscle (below his armpit). ... The Rays are 29-22 in series finales and have won the final game to avoid sweeps in four of their six series against the Red Sox.