Takeaways from another loss to Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Takeaways from another low-scoring loss to the Phillies:

* Even on a night when game-time temperatures were 88 degrees, being on the other side of a flamboyant Jonathan Papelbon fist pump is a little like having someone rub your face with a snowball.

* Back-to-back losses for Ryan Dempster and John Lackey? Take the long view, Sox fans. Dempster gave up two runs in seven innings Tuesday. Lackey gave up three solo home runs in six innings Wednesday in a miniaturized ballpark that David Wells famously said should be in Williamsport.

Every time Lackey goes to the hill he’s five more days removed from Tommy John surgery, and getting that much stronger. Lackey has given up three earned runs in 19 innings over his last three starts, a 1.42 ERA. Dempster seems back on track, while maintaining that a groin issue had nothing to do with the dropoff in his performance.

The Sox will be watching with great interest to see what Franklin Morales has to offer in his first start Thursday. When healthy, which hasn’t been often, Morales has pitched well. This rotation has legs, a sentence no one uttered in 2012.

* The Sox didn’t exactly ease Jackie Bradley Jr. back into the big leagues. John Farrell sent him up to pinch hit for the pitcher in the ninth inning Wednesday against Papelbon. Pap started the kid out with two two-seamers, got a swing and miss on a splitter, then put him away with a 94 mph fastball. Bradley Jr. is now hitless in his last 21 major-league at-bats, dating back to his first go-round. Only statheads refuse to start the meter over at 1. Farrell hinted Bradley Jr. may get a start this weekend in left field in Yankee Stadium, where he already has played and had some success. Book it.

* The Phillies ran on every opportunity against Jarrod Saltalamacchia, stealing four bases in as many attempts. Saltalamacchia threw out two baserunners for Clay Buchholz May 22 in Chicago. Since then, Sox opponents have stolen 13 bases in their last 14 attempts, 3 of 3 with David Ross behind the plate, 10 of 11 with Saltalamacchia catching. Farrell has said the Sox are doing a better job of controlling the running game, which was a big part of the motivation for adding Ross. That control has been lost. Right now opponents are on a pace to steal 132 bases while being caught 27 times. Last season, opponents stole 127 bases and were caught 31 times.

* So, who “outed” Dustin Pedroia, who said he didn’t want it known that he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb with a head-first slide into first base on Opening Day in New York? Well, technically, the Boston Herald did, reporter Michael Silverman breaking the story Wednesday morning, but Silverman understandably didn’t reveal his sources. He did have principal owner John W. Henry talking about the injury, though.

“The search continues, man,’’ Pedroia said with a laugh.

Pedroia drove in Boston’s first run with a sacrifice fly, singled and reached on an error by Ryan Howard. This was the 36th time this season that he has reached base at least twice, the most in the American League.

* What do you think of the All-Star break as the time for the Sox to announce they are rewarding Pedroia with a contract extension? They talked about it this past winter, and even though he has a year left on his contract, the Sox would engender nothing but goodwill by making Pedroia as close to a lifetime member of the club as they can.

* One reason you haven’t seen or heard much from Ben Cherington these days is that he has been immersed in the draft. The Sox are picking seventh, the highest they have picked since selecting Trot Nixon seventh in 1993, so Cherington has been getting first-hand looks at all the top prospects being considered.

* Daniel Nava hit his seventh home run Wednesday, which marks a career high. With little fanfare, Nava has evolved from a guy whose Red Sox career had dead-ended when they designated him for assignment to becoming one of the team’s most reliable everyday players. Nava's on-base average of .393 trails only David Ortiz (.395) and Pedroia (.419), and his slugging percentage of .474 is second only to Ortiz (.598). Consistent? In games he has started this season, he has not gone more than two consecutive games without a hit.

Nava is being paid $506,000 this season. He is one of the best bargains in the game.