DENVER -- On Thursday, Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew reported some improvement in the right hamstring strain that has kept him out of the lineup for the past five games. The latest target for Drew is to return to the mix against the Giants on Saturday, when the Sox face righty Joe Martinez.

"We've got a lefty going tomorrow, so I can't imagine we'd play him tomorrow," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said on Thursday. "Not that J.D. can't hit lefties -- I think he's actually feeling pretty good. He's doing a little bit better. But I think [Saturday] is very realistic."

Josh Reddick, who was promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket for the third time this season on Tuesday, started in right for the third straight game.

Repeat flops rare for Papelbon

DENVER -- Just as Dustin Pedroia was having the game of his life, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was enduring the roughest back-to-back days of his career.

How rare is it for Papelbon to blow consecutive save opportunities, as he did on Wednesday and Thursday at Coors Field? It had happened only twice before. The first was in Papelbon's rookie year of 2006, when he surrendered a lead at Tropicana Field against the Rays on Aug. 6 and then another at Kansas City three nights later. Then came the meltdowns at Detroit and Minnesota, which happened on May 7 and 9, 2008.

But this marked the first time Papelbon had suffered such an indignity in back-to-back days.

"I was sideways in my delivery -- I wasn't crisp in my delivery," Papelbon said after Boston's 13-11 win over the Rockies in 10 innings on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Papelbon came on with a one-run lead and gave up a game-tying homer to Ian Stewart and a walk-off, two-run shot to Jason Giambi in the bottom of the ninth. On Thursday, Papelbon came on with an 11-9 lead and gave up a two-out, two-run bloop single to Brad Hawpe.

This time, there was a much better ending. Thanks to Pedroia belting his third homer of the night -- a two-run blast in the top of the 10th -- Papelbon was able to come back out for the bottom of the 10th and earn the win.

All's well that ends well, right?

"That's all that matters -- the team won," Papelbon said. "Some nights I pick them up; some nights they pick me up. That's why you have 25 guys in this locker room."

Papelbon is 16-for-19 in save opportunities this season and has a 3.98 ERA, which is nearly two runs higher than his career ERA of 2.05.

"I've just got to go back to the drawing board," said Papelbon. "It's just like anything else, man. The season's a heavyweight fight. I lost round 3; we've got 12 rounds to go. I've got to go back to the drawing board; it's just that simple. If I go and try to make things more complicated than they are, I'm only going to hurt myself in the long run."

Banged-up Youkilis held out of lineup

DENVER -- Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis was out of the starting lineup for a second straight night on Thursday, as he's felt some recurring soreness in the ulnar nerve in his right arm, which was hit by a pitch on June 12 against the Phillies. Youkilis missed one game with that injury.

Sitting Youkilis was made a bit easier for manager Terry Francona because the Red Sox are down a starter anyway this week because they can't use the designated hitter in National League parks.

David Ortiz started Thursday's game at first base. Youkilis is expected to start on Friday night against Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez in the opener of a three-game set at AT&T Park.

"He kind of slept on it," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "When I say slept on it, he's having a little bit of a hard time, because he got hit on the nerve -- it's kind of going down his forearm. Since somebody has to sit anyway and there's a lefty going tomorrow, it just seems like it makes some sense to sit him today."

Youkilis, as usual, has been a vital force for the Red Sox this season. He entered Thursday hitting .307 with 14 homers, 47 RBIs and a .430 on-base percentage.

"Again, when you get it on the funny bone, it's kind of black and blue," Francona said. "It's just kind of radiating down his arm a little bit. I just told him yesterday, 'Don't do anything -- let's take advantage of [the rest].' If we're forced to have a guy not play, let's take advantage. If a guy is a little bit beat up, let's give him some downtime."

Return home to Bay Area a thrill to Nava

DENVER -- The feel-good story of Daniel Nava's introduction to the Majors will add another chapter on Friday, when the outfielder plays at San Francisco. Nava grew up in the Bay Area as a Giants fan.

"I've been [to AT&T Park] a handful of times," said Nava. "It's usually about a half-hour away from me, and it's usually kind of cold, so I would just stay home and watch the game from my house. But I've been a handful of times."

Three years ago, the Red Sox purchased Nava from the Chico Outlaws -- an independent league team -- for the initial acquisition cost of $1. Nava, who started his collegiate career as an equipment manager, rose through the ranks in Boston's farm system the past couple of years.

Nava was promoted to the Red Sox on June 12 and became the second player in Major League history to hit a grand slam on the first pitch of his career.

Nava has hardly stopped contributing since then. He entered Thursday's game hitting .382 with one homer and 10 RBIs.

"However they got here, the whole idea is for people to help us win," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's done a terrific job so far. He's actually given us a boost. I don't know that's always fair. You hope a guy comes up and kind of holds his own. This kid has done a terrific job.

"He swings at strikes. He looks like a mature hitter. He is a mature hitter. He just doesn't have big league experience -- that doesn't seem to be throwing him. He's handled himself really well."

Nava is looking forward to playing at San Francisco. He won't allow himself to get overwhelmed with ticket requests, saying that he will simply take care of his family.

"If you get a ticket for this friend, then this friend gets mad that you didn't get him a ticket," Nava said. "So I'm just getting tickets for my family. Everyone else, they're going to have to get their own tickets, unfortunately."