PAWTUCKET — The fans came to see Carl Crawford and went home talking about Ryan Lavarnway.
Crawford, in his first of two rehab games with Pawtucket, reached base in all three of his at-bats during Pawtucket’s 3-2 win over Durham on Friday night. He blooped a single over the second baseman’s head in the first, walked in the third, and reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, scoring one batter later when Lavarnway crushed a home run down the left field line that cleared everything, bouncing around in the parking lot as the crowd collectively murmured “Who is this guy?”
Lavarnway, one of the top power hitters in the high minors this season, collected two hits in the game. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound catcher/DH now has 22 homers on the season (14 in Portland and eight in 107 at-bats with the PawSox). He is hitting .358 and has an OPS of 1.080.
Winning pitcher Kevin Millwood (5-0) also had a huge impact on the game, settling down after a shaky first two innings to retire 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
The PawSox took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. Che-Hsuan Lin led off with a grounder to short. Ray Olmedo’s throw across the infield went wildly past first baseman Dan Johnson, allowing Lin to reach second. He moved to third on a wild pitch, stayed there as Daniel Nava beat out an infielder grounder to short, and came home on Crawford’s bloop single.
Durham tied the game in the third inning. Brandon Guyer led with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and eventually scored on an infield grounder. Millwood allowed just one baserunner during the next three innings.
Reliever Jeremy Kehrt gave up a run in the seventh to make it a 3-2 game and then put two runners on base in the eighth before lefty Randy Williams came in to get J.J. Furmaniak looking at a called third strike to end the inning.
Williams stayed in to finish the game. He was aided by a great running catch deep in center by Che-Hsuan Lin for the first out in the ninth. If the ball goes over Lin’s head, Olmedo is on third base with nobody out. Williams then fanned Brandon Guyer and Felipe Lopez to end the game in impressive fashion. The big lefty has six saves in six opportunities this season.
Crawford seemed satisfied with the way his game went.
“I just want to see if I can do this two days in a row,” he said while meeting with the media during the sixth inning down in the PawSox weight room. “My leg felt good. I want to be careful because this is my first hamstring injury. The most important thing for me was getting out of the box and feeling good. I had a chance to test it on a hit-and-run and that felt good.”
Crawford also felt good about his three plate appearances.
“It was weird,” he said. “I need to get my timing back and the only way to do that is to see pitches. I saw a lot of pitches tonight and now I can make my adjustments.”
Crawford hopes to be in Boston’s lineup on Monday night in Baltimore.
“The guys (in Boston) are playing well and I want to be a part of that,” he said. “I know the fans want to see our team at full strength. I definitely want to get back in the lineup.”
EXTRA BASES: Millwood made a nice stab of a comebacker in the second inning to start an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play … Durham starter Alex Torres was part of the deal that sent Scott Kazmir to the Angels two summers ago. Kazmir was released last month. Torres, 23 , struck out 12 batters in one game earlier this season … The PawSox have now won 20 of their last 29 games and five in a row … Pawtucket and Durham meet again tonight at 6:05 with Tony Pena Jr. (7-4, 2.74) going for the PawSox against the Bulls’ Matt Torra (0-0, 5.40). The game will be televised by COX Cable on its local access channel … Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. game will be shown on NESN … Matt Fox (5-3, 4.82) will pitch on Sunday for Pawtucket.