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Schilling mops up in AAA Pawtucket

Associated Press

Curt Schilling's first relief appearance looked a lot like his last start: not very good.

The injured Red Sox ace pitched a sloppy ninth inning in Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday night as he began his conversion from starter to reliever. The 38-year-old right-hander allowed two runs -- one of them earned -- on two hits, striking out two.

"I wanted to go out and strike out all three guys I faced. It didn't happen," Schilling said. "There's a lot of things I was trying to get done tonight."

With the crowd of 10,067 chanting "We Want Schilling!" in the eighth, two other PawSox relievers blew a 3-1 lead and deprived the hero of Boston's 2004 World Series title of the chance for a save. An inning later, the crowd rose as he loped in from the bullpen.

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Schilling quickly got the first out, but that was followed by a single through the middle, a stolen base and then a curving liner that bounced under a diving right-fielder in the corner for a triple. An error by shortstop Alejandro Machado allowed an unearned run to score.

But Schilling struck out Tim Raines Jr. to end the inning.

"I forgot how much your adrenaline is tied to the score of the game," Schilling said. "It's different."

Many in the crowd got up to leave, including Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and two assistants from the team's front office who came to watch Triple-A's most expensive mop-up man. Schilling threw 13 of his 14 pitches for strikes and hit 92 mph on the stadium radar gun.

Schilling volunteered to go to the bullpen when it became obvious it would be a while before he could go deep into the game as a starter. At the same time, Red Sox closer Keith Foulke was heading for knee surgery, so the team was thinking along the same lines.

Pedro Martinez bowed out of Tuesday's All-Star Game, offering his spot to someone who will be able to pitch that night.

Martinez, who is set to pitch Sunday in Pittsburgh in the Mets' final game before the break, would be unable to throw on All-Star night. Rather than watch from the bench, he said he will skip the appearance.

"I decided to offer my opportunity for somebody else to actually participate and bring the National League an opportunity to win," Martinez said.

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The Mets alerted the National League on Wednesday of the probability and gave them the formal word Thursday morning. NL manager Tony LaRussa then named Phillies reliever Billy Wagner to the vacant spot.

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