BOSTON (AP) – David Ortiz was back in the Red Sox lineup, but his home run drought continued.

The Red Sox slugger was the designated hitter, batting third for Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays after taking the weekend off to clear his head and try to snap out of his slump. Ortiz went 0 for 3 with a walk and saw his batting average fall to .203; he has yet to hit a homer in 133 at-bats this season.

“I thought he had a tough night,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “It’s a lot better to talk about when we win.”

Ortiz, 33, a five-time All-Star, hit 112 home runs from 2006-08 but has not hit one since Sept. 22. With three homerless at-bats on Tuesday, he is mired in the longest homerless slump of his career.

He spoke only briefly to reporters on Tuesday, saying to check back with him in a week after he gets hot.

“We’re pulling for him, and we all feel for him,” third baseman Mike Lowell said. “He’s very proud and a guy that just wants to help the team out, so we’re expecting him to do some good things for us.”

Francona said he did not want to drop Ortiz down in the lineup to take some pressure off him. Kevin Youkilis, the usual No. 4 hitter, has not played since May 4 because of a left oblique strain.

“David and I talked about that a little bit,” Francona said. “This is hard. I don’t want to tell a player ‘If you struggle, we’re going to move you.’ I don’t want to do that. I think our best lineup is with him hitting third.”

Francona decided to give Ortiz some time off after he went 0-for-7 and stranded 12 base runners in a 12-inning game against the Los Angeles Angels. Afterward, he told reporters: “Just put down “Papi stinks.”‘

“That last day in Anaheim was tough for him,” Francona said. “He used it to his advantage, took a day like we told him to and he got in the cage a bunch. That really hasn’t been the (problem). It’s taking it and getting results, which happens to everybody.”

Also Tuesday, Youkilis went hitless in his second rehab appearance in Triple-A and remained on schedule to return on Wednesday. Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) is expected to return on Friday against the New York Mets, which would force Justin Masterson to the bullpen.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie (left wrist) could travel with the team on their next road trip in Minnesota.

AP-ES-05-19-09 2221EDT

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