When the Red Sox decided that Josh Beckett wouldn't make his scheduled start tonight at Wrigley Field, their first impulse was to have Clay Buchholz pitch instead. After all, Buchholz would be on his usual rest thanks to Thursday's off day.

But, according to manager Bobby Valentine, Buchholz took a pass.

"That was Plan 1," Valentine said before last night's 4-3 win against the Chicago Cubs, "but Clay felt he needed the extra days."

For what it's worth, Valentine said he agreed with the right-hander's decision.

Buchholz missed the final three months of last season because of a stress fracture in his back, and he only recently started pitching well again after a wretched April. Also, he has exceeded 100 pitches in four consecutive starts, including a 125-pitch complete-game shutout June 7 against the Baltimore Orioles that preceded a 103-pitch outing last Tuesday night in Miami.

In his last seven starts, Buchholz is 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA.