Cherington discusses the Red Sox's pennant race

BOSTON -- With the waiver Trade Deadline approaching on Saturday, the Red Sox may be in the market for a right-handed reliever.

"If there are ways we can improve, I know that those steps will be taken," said manager John Farrell.

With Koji Uehara doing a fine job in the role of closer, the Red Sox have just two other right-handers, Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman, working out of the bullpen. Farrell said left-handed reliever Craig Breslow is particularly useful, considering he can get lefties and righties out with regularity, but the team could still be in need.

The Red Sox would have a hard time nabbing a player off waivers considering their priority would be nearly last due to their place in the standings. Veteran relievers LaTroy Hawkins of the Mets and Kevin Gregg of the Cubs are rumored to be available and could be intriguing options if the right situation were to present itself.

"If there's someone out there that makes sense for us to acquire, we might see that," Farrell said.

If the Red Sox don't go fishing in the trade market, they can turn to their plethora of young talent.

With rosters expanding on Sunday, the likely position player candidates to earn a promotion for September would be catcher Ryan Lavarnway, infielders Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder, who is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket, and outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Quintin Berry, who was recently acquired from Kansas City for Clayton Mortensen.

As far as pitching is concerned, the Sox appear likely to promote Jose De La Torre, Rubby De La Rosa and knuckleballer Steven Wright, all right-handers who have worked out of the bullpen in the Majors at some point this season.

Allen Webster remains a toss-up considering he's been used as exclusively as a starter and has been pitching particularly well of late. In six starts with Pawtucket since July 31, Webster has 41 strikeouts to 11 walks in 35 2/3 innings while posting a 2.52 ERA.

Farrell said he's expecting to add about eight or nine players to the roster in the final month, and it's unlikely the team would call up anyone who isn't expected to make some sort of impact.

Daniel Bard, who walked five of the six batters he faced in a Gulf Coast League game Thursday, was called "a work in progress," by Farrell.

Papi's slump reaches 22 at-bats after hitless night

BAL@BOS: Matusz K's Ortiz to strand tying run on base

BOSTON -- David Ortiz rarely goes on hitless streaks like the one he's currently in. He rarely is the guy to strike out with the game on the line.

Thursday night was one of those times. Ortiz went 0-for-4 and left three runners on base as the Red Sox lost to the Orioles, 3-2.

Throughout his career, he's never gone more than 27 at-bats without getting a hit, and he's never gone more than 23 at-bats without a hit as a member of the Red Sox.

After Thursday's performance, Ortiz is hitless in his past 22 at-bats.

"Just missing pitches," Papi said. "You've got to stay aggressive, keep on battling. It happens to everybody.

"Hey, I'm a player just like everybody else. I'm not going to put pressure on myself. We don't have time for that. Just keep trying. That's the only way you can get out of it."

When Ortiz came up in the eighth inning, Jacoby Ellsbury had stolen second base to put himself into scoring position as the game-tying run. But Brian Matusz struck out Ortiz to kill the rally.

"There was no thought of a pinch-hit or to try to take away from what his strengths are," manager John Farrell said. "We've seen many, many times against left-handers where he's stayed inside the ball with either a ground ball up the middle or a line drive to left-center field. He's just going through a spell right now where he's working to get out of it."

Farrell said there have been no recent symptoms of a sore back that had hindered Ortiz during a six-game road trip on the West Coast, and Ortiz will be in the lineup Friday as the Red Sox host the White Sox.

Assistant hitting Victor Rodriguez said the 37-year-old designated hitter is tired, but the lack of energy is nothing out of the ordinary for late August.

"This is pretty normal; it's been 100-and-something games he's played and he's been as consistent as anybody in the Major Leagues," Rodriguez said. "So it's normal that he's probably a little tired and trying to do a little too much. There's nothing to worry about. It's just a matter of him getting back on track and slowing things down.

"It's not by mistake [that he doesn't go in long slumps]. This guy is a hard worker. He knows what he can do. He's real simple with his approach. He's a guy who is low-maintenance, so even when he's slumping a little bit, he comes out real quick."

The slump has been uncharacteristic of Ortiz, who needs one more home run this season to give him at least 25 for the ninth time in his career. Only 11 active players have nine seasons with at least 25 homers.

"It's not the end of the world," he said. "Papi's going to struggle, too. I'll be back."

Worth noting

Mike Carp, who was the hero in Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Orioles by driving in the go-ahead run off the bench in the eighth inning, was a late scratch from Thursday's lineup due to left shoulder stiffness and is considered day to day.

• After exiting Wednesday's game after fouling a ball off his right foot, Jacoby Ellsbury played all of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles. Ellsbury stole his 50th base in the eighth inning, even with O's catcher Matt Wieters standing upright on a pitch-out. Ellsbury has three 50-steal seasons, matching him with Michael Bourn as the only players since 2008 to steal at least 50 three times.

• In the daily Clay Buchholz update, Farrell again confirmed that Buchholz would start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday and then make one more rehab start, likely with Pawtucket, before rejoining the Major League club.

• Woburn native Richard Donahue, an MBTA transit police officer who was shot while pursuing the Boston Marathon suspects in April, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.