- Associated Press - Saturday, September 24, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The Boston Red Sox hoped a revamped batting order would lift them out of their September slump.

Manager Terry Francona moved Carl Crawford into the No. 2 hole for just the seventh time this season and batted Adrian Gonzalez fifth for only the second time in Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees. Dustin Pedroia hit third for the sixth time this season.

“I think it puts Carl in a position where maybe he feels like he can impact us,” Francona said. “His on-base percentage isn’t typically what’d you’d have someone in the two-hole, but we’re in a smaller sample size now.”

Francona talked about the moves with coaches and players after Friday’s rainout and received interesting suggestions. Crawford said several teammates came to him with the idea before he even talked to his manager.

Crawford, who signed a $142 million, seven-year contract as a free agent during the offseason, was hitting .259 with a career-low 18 stolen bases. He spent the majority of his career batting at the top of the lineup with Tampa Bay but has hit mostly sixth, seventh or eight for the Red Sox. His .295 on-base percentage is 39 points lower than his career average.

“It’s cool to be back at the top of the order, haven’t been there in a while,” Crawford said. “They asked me about it and I agreed to it.”

In a 4-14 slide, Boston’s AL wild-card lead over Tampa Bay had shrunk to 2 1/2 games from nine. During the slump, the Red Sox had scored just 54 runs in the losses.

Crawford hoped to change that with his style of play.

“I can cause a little more havoc, play the way I’ve always played,” he said. “You know steal bases, get on base for the guys behind me. Don’t have to try to hit a home run.”

While Gonzalez has spent nearly all his time in the three spot, Francona wasn’t worried about his slugger moving down.

“There’s give and take. I don’t think it’s going to affect him,” Francona said. “I just think the positives outweigh the negatives.”


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