The Red Sox acquired LHP Kent Mercker for their wild-card stretch run, sending two minor leaguers to the Cardinals.

Mercker is 6-5 with a 5.12 earned run average this season in 25 games, 18 of them starts. Since July 1, Mercker is 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA. He is also 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in four appearances against American League teams this season.

In exchange for Mercker, the Cardinals got LHP Mike Matthews and C David Benham.

Mercker was expected to join the Red Sox yesterday in Minnesota.

It wasn't clear if Mercker would initially start or relieve. The Red Sox are a starter short since placing RHP Bret Saberhagen on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a weak throwing shoulder.

LOFTON ON DL: The Indians placed OF Kenny Lofton on the disabled list for the second time because of a lingering right hamstring injury.

The assignment is retroactive to Aug. 16. Lofton will join the Akron Aeros of the Class AA Eastern League Tuesday in Altoona, Pa., to begin a playing rehabilitation program for his injury.

3B Travis Fryman, who has been on the disabled list since July 4 because of an injured right knee, also has been assigned to rehab with Akron starting yesterday in Altoona.