Red Sox add power in trade with Pirates

The Boston Red Sox are hoping this latest trade for Pittsburgh’s leading power hitter turns out as well as last season’s.

The Red Sox acquired slumping first baseman Adam LaRoche on Wednesday for two midlevel prospects, less than a year after they picked up All-Star outfielder Jason Bay from the Pirates.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity that a team like that wants me,” said LaRoche, who is hitting .109 since July 4.

The Pirates, who have traded five starting position players since last July, will receive Double-A shortstop Argenis Diaz and Class-A right-hander Hunter Strickland, an 18th-round draft pick two years ago.

Boston also traded infielder Julio Lugo and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Chris Duncan.

The Red Sox lost their fourth consecutive game Tuesday night to fall out of first place in the AL East, a game behind the New York Yankees. Boston was pursuing Toronto starter Roy Halladay, but a bat turned into the bigger priority for a team that is hitting .236 since June 17 and has scored 12 runs in five games since the All-Star break.

LaRoche is hitting .247 with 12 homers, 40 RBI and 81 strikeouts in 87 games. He is 5-for-46 the last 21/2 weeks.

Mets official scrutinized

The New York Mets plan to investigate reports that vice president of player development Tony Bernazard challenged members of their Double-A Binghamton affiliate to fight him during a postgame tirade.

“We do take these matters seriously and we are going to investigate these reports,” general manager Omar Minaya said Wednesday.

The New York Daily News, citing unidentified sources, reported Wednesday that Bernazard, while visiting the Binghamton Mets early this month, removed his shirt during a clubhouse meeting with players, then challenged them to fisticuffs. Bernazard reportedly directed much of his anger at infielder Jose Coronado.

Bernazard played 10 seasons for five major league teams, including Seattle.

Short hops

Texas put closer Frank Francisco on the disabled list Monday with a mild case of pneumonia and had at least four other players with the flu or flu-like symptoms two days later: pitchers Vicente Padilla and Eddie Guardado, outfielder David Murphy and shortstop Omar Vizquel. … The Los Angeles Angels have optioned right-hander Sean O’Sullivan to Triple-A Salt Lake and called up outfielder Terry Evans. … Manny Ramirez won’t play for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds on his bobblehead night. Ramirez sat out Wednesday for precautionary reasons after being hit with a pitch on the side of his left hand in a game the night before. … The son of former New York Yankees star Don Mattingly was arraigned Wednesday in Indiana on misdemeanor charges of shoving his mother and spitting in her face after she allegedly sent him an insulting text message. The case against Taylor Mattingly, 24, was deferred so he can apply for a pretrial diversion program.