The Red Sox recent struggles continue on the first game of their road trip. After a Manny Ramirez blast put them up 5-3 in the eighth, the bullpen once again floundered. There are reports on Curt Schilling’s outing in Pawtucket last night and just a few other sports items as we hit the halfway point of the baseball season.

The Red Sox fell to the Rangers last night 6-5 after Keith Foulke allowed another lead to slip away. Following the game, Dennis Eckersley on NESN, who has had Foulke’s back for the most part during the closer’s struggles, stated that Foulke looked scared out on the mound, especially after giving up a one-out triple to Michael Young. Eckersley stated that a change needs to be made, but he really doesn’t know what that change can be. It seems like Mike Timlin is the only alternative at this point, and he gave up a run in his inning of work last night as well.

Nick Cafardo writes that people might mistakenly call Foulke ‘Kevin Faulk’ because the Patriots running back might be a better choice to close games at this point. Jeff Horrigan writes that manager Terry Francona stated after the game that no change in the closer role is imminent. Sean McAdam has the same quote, and notes that with the season officially half over, its obvious that the bullpen is a full-fledged issue for this team. The headline writers for David Heuschkel’s article and Cafardo’s story above seem to have consulted each other while naming their articles. Heuschkel notes that Francona is just about out of answers regarding Foulke at this point.

In essence, there were two Red Sox games last night, and nether really went well. Curt Schilling was in Pawtucket to make his second rehab start for the PawSox, and struggled, giving up eight hits and five run in his five innings of work. Adam Kilgore writes that though Schilling’s mere presence made the night a winner for the Pawtucket fans, the Red Sox would’ve like to have seen a better outing from their ace, who appeared to regress last night. Steve Buckley says that Schilling was frustrated by his lack of feel for his fastball. Steven Krasner writes that we shouldn’t expect to see Schilling with the big club this week, based on last night’s outing. Jeff Goldberg has a similar thought, while noted that it was Schilling’s mechanics, not his ankle which are holding up his progress. Eric Benevides in the Pawtucket Times says that PawSox pitching coach Mike Griffin was able to find a few positives in the five inning stint.

Howard Bryant says that the Rangers were not fooled at all by Foulke last night, sitting on his pitches all the way. Bill Reynolds in one of his “three columns for the price of one” outings notes that if Foulke can’t handle the negative attention, then perhaps he should’ve stayed in Oakland. (Reynolds also looks at Celtics draftee Ryan Gomes and the soap opera of the Yankees in the other two parts of his column.) Amalie Benjamin analyzes the performance of the Red Sox starter last night, Wade Miller, who settled down after a rough start and turned in a solid performance. Horrigan writes that Matt Clement may yet find a way to the All Star game.

Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes that the Red Sox desperately need Schilling back at a 100%. Without him he says, they have no ace, and are merely the Cleveland Indians of the late 1990’s. Benjamin also looks at Lenny DiNardo’s rushed return to the Major Leagues. Jon Couture looks at the All Star selection process, noting that while it is a mess, it certainly does create “buzz” for the game and is not an easy process for the manager. John Tomase says that by selecting “deserving” Angels starter Bartolo Colon, Terry Francona “stuck it” to his own guys, creating an unhappy clubhouse.

Gordon Edes looks at the sensational, unexpected success of the Washington Nationals in their first season in D.C. – noting that while the club and fans have enjoyed a rebirth this season, political issues are always close behind the scenes of anything in the Nation’s Capital. Lenny Megliola looks at “The truly amazing William Roger Clemens”, who just continues to roll on and put up incredible numbers at the age of 43. Howard Bryant (subscription only) says that the punishment handed out to Kenny Rogers wasn’t nearly harsh enough, he still gets to pitch in the All Star game, for which he gets a $50,000 bonus, which coincidentally is the same amount as his fine. Because of appeal, he is also able to continue pitching now.

Cafardo’s notebook looks at strategies by the Red Sox for combating the heat of Texas and conserving energy. He also notes a Seattle Post-Intelligencer report that the Red Sox are “in the mix” for Brett Boone. Horrigan’s notebook says that David Ortiz will take part in the Home Run Derby next Monday night. McAdam’s notebook says that there is still plenty of frustration in the Red Sox clubhouse over the All Star omissions of Matt Clement and Mike Timlin. Heuschkel’s notebook says that Francona expects Kenny Rogers to accept his spot on the All Star team and play. Benevides’ notebook looks at pitching prospect Jon Papelbon getting the call to Pawtucket.

Frank Dell’Apa and