Timlin on DL with bad knee; Dice-K chased in return after one inning

BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday before a 9-3 loss to the Cardinals because of tendinitis in his left knee, the fifth time in the last three seasons the 42-year-old Timlin has been on the disabled list.

The move allowed Boston to activate right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka in time to start Saturday against St. Louis.

Matsuzaka, starting for the first time since May 27, when he suffered a mild strain of his right rotator cuff in Seattle, lasted just one inning against St. Louis -- the shortest outing of his brief career.

The Red Sox starter, who was placed on the DL on May 30 because of a mild rotator cuff strain, was charged with seven runs in one-plus inning.

The 42-year-old Timlin, placed on the DL retroactive to June 17, is 3-3 with a 7.06 ERA in 24 relief appearances this season. He also began this season on the disabled list with a bruised right index finger, and was on the DL twice in 2007 -- once for a strained left oblique muscle and once with right shoulder tendinitis.

"It's starting to get a little bit worse. We figured this would be a good time to take some time and let it cool down," he said. "It's been around a while. It's not something that's brand new. Every athlete plays with pain. You just do."

But he wouldn't use the injury as a reason for his poor showings so far.

"To me, that's an excuse, and I don't make excuses," he said. "I've just pitched badly. I can't blame it on anything else but my performance."

Boston manager Terry Francona felt Timlin had been pitching better of late.

"I think you have to look a little bit beyond the numbers," he said. "Last year, when he first came back, he wasn't really throwing that well. He was getting people out and he wasn't really hitting his spots a lot but started getting people out and then his confidence grew and then he really did start throwing well.

"Now, it's kind of funny," Francona said. "The ball seems to be coming out of his hand pretty good, but when does miss his spots, he's paying for it. The good news is that he doesn't look like he's hurting, but there has been a lot of inconsistencies there in his pitching."

Matsuzaka, who left his start May 27 in Seattle with the injury, gave up four runs in the first inning, allowing five hits -- including Aaron Miles' first homer of the season.

He loaded the bases in the second with two walks and a single without retiring a batter and was relieved by right-hander Chris Smith, who was making his major league debut.

Smith gave up a grand slam to Troy Glaus.

The Red Sox spent $51.1 million to acquire Dice-K's rights from the Seibu Lions, then signed him to a $52 million, six-year contract before last season.

Matsuzaka was 8-0 with a 2.53 ERA coming into the game.

His previous shortest was 2 2/3 innings last Sept. 8, at Baltimore.