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Shoulder worries force Joe Kelly off mound

Joe Kelly was the dominant starter Friday, pitching five innings of shutout ball before being forced from the game.

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Joe Kelly was the dominant starter Friday, pitching five innings of shutout ball before being forced from the game.

Joe Kelly threw five shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night and allowed one hit. But he left the game after only five innings and 88 pitches because of a problem with his shoulder.

In the Red Sox’ 5-3 loss, Kelly’s condition was a significant concern.

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“It stinks. I had a little minor tweak in my shoulder that I felt on a curveball,” Kelly said. “It was something that I haven’t felt.”

Kelly was examined by the training staff after the game and cleared.

“I feel good. Ran through some tests. Other than just pitching and having normal soreness and fatigue there’s no signs of anything. I feel like I’m going to go out there and pitch my next start,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the sensation came when he threw a curveball to Endy Chavez with two outs and a runner on in the fifth inning. He stepped off the mound, squatted for a second then stretched his back. Manager John Farrell came to the mound accompanied by a trainer. Kelly stayed in the game after throwing warm-up pitches.

He walked Chavez and Brad Miller to load the bases then got Austin Jackson on a pop to end the inning.

“Mentally I was still thinking about my shoulder and then I said, ‘Just forget about it and pitch,’ ” Kelly said.

But once the inning was over, Farrell played it safe and took Kelly out of the game.

Farrell said there were no restrictions in Kelly’s range of motion or a repeat of the discomfort he felt once he returned to the clubhouse.

“We’ll certainly check him again [Saturday],” the manager said.

Kelly is lined up to start Wednesday night in Toronto and said there is no reason for him not to.

“I told the training staff and the medical staff I want to go my next start,” he said. “I truly believe I’m going to be ready to go.”

But with the Red Sox mired in last place, the team could take a cautious approach. Kelly was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in the John Lackey trade on July 31 and the Red Sox view him as an important part of their rotation next season.

The injury aside, Kelly pitched well. He walked three, struck out five, and much improved command after his last start, a disastrous four innings against Houston. Kelly gave up seven runs on seven hits and six walks in that game.

“To pitch at this level you have to have good fastball command and that’s what I tried to focus on as much as I can in-between starts. It’s still a work in progress. It’s not exactly where I wanted it to be but it was much better tonight,” he said.

The game was scoreless when Kelly left. The Red Sox got a three-run homer from Yoenis Cespedes in the sixth inning than watched in shock when Koji Uehara allowed five runs in the ninth inning.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.
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