Lowell returns to lineup for Red Sox

Posted March 10, 2009, at 10:30 p.m.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Lowell returned to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since hip surgery, getting three at-bats Tuesday during Boston’s 5-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

The 2007 World Series MVP had surgery Oct. 20 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, the same injury that sidelined New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez this spring. Rodriguez underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday and will need another, more extensive operation after the season.

Lowell was the designated hitter and finished 1-for-3 with a single to left in his final trip to the plate. He is slated to play again Friday against the Yankees, at third base.

“It’s nice to see him get a hit, because it was a good swing,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “But it’s nice to see him in the game. We only were planning on giving him two at-bats.”

Lowell said last week that running was the final part of his game to come around after the surgery. After the game he said he had no problem running or getting out of the batter’s box.

“That twist on the swing and twisting back out to start running, it felt fine,” Lowell said. “I actually didn’t even think about it, which I think is a good thing.”

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz pitched three perfect innings, striking out two.

“I thought it was a really good step,” Francona said. “I thought he threw kind of a power changeup. He threw some really good ones, and he fouled them up and he repeated it. Got a ground ball with two outs on a first pitch. I thought he had three really good innings.”

Buchholz tossed a no-hitter in his second major league start, against Baltimore at Fenway Park on Sept. 1, 2007. But he struggled last season and was sent to Double-A in August.

“It didn’t go quite like it went today last year,” Buchholz said. “But I went out there throwing the pitches that I want to throw instead of second-guessing myself. I went out there and said, ‘Hey, this is what I’m going to do if I feel like a changeup would be the right pitch here.’ And if you have that mind-set, it’s hard to say if anything is the wrong pitch to throw if you’re going to throw it with conviction. And that was my whole deal today.”

Scott Moore went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and scored twice for Baltimore, improving his spring training average to .429. Orioles reliever Radhames Liz tossed three scoreless innings for the win, allowing one hit and striking out two before a crowd of 8,232 at City of Palms Park.

“That’s as good as I’ve seen him pitch down,” manager Dave Trembley said. “His stuff was down. Three innings, 28 pitches. He could have went another one, but we’re probably going to bring him back on three days instead of four.”

Left-hander Kris Johnson took the loss and was reassigned to minor league camp after the game.

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