Red Sox closer Keith Foulke had arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee yesterday, just one development on a busy day of roster shuffling for first-place Boston.

The Red Sox designated OF Jay Payton for assignment, activated OF Adam Stern from the 60-day disabled list, sent LHP Lenny DiNardo to Class AAA Pawtucket and traded Ramon Vazquez to the Indians for Alex Cora in a deal involving utility infielders.

Foulke will begin rehabilitation immediately, and team doctor Thomas Gill said recovery from this type of surgery typically takes about six weeks.

"We don't want him to come back too early, so he can come back and pitch when he's supposed to," Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said.

Cora was in the starting lineup at shortstop last night, batting leadoff in place of Johnny Damon, who has a sore shoulder. . . .

Curt Schilling's first relief appearance looked a lot like his last start: not very good.

The injured Red Sox ace pitched a sloppy ninth inning at Pawtucket as he began his conversion from starter to reliever. The right-hander allowed two runs -- one of them earned -- on two hits, striking out two.

"I wanted to go out and strike out all three guys I faced. It didn't happen," Schilling said.

Schilling got the first out, but that was followed by a single, a stolen base and a triple. An error by the shortstop allowed an unearned run to score. Schilling struck out Tim Raines Jr. to end the inning. . . .

The Indians called up LHP Brian Tallet to take Cora's roster spot. Indians GM Mark Shapiro said the above-average seasons that SS Jhonny Peralta and 2B Ronnie Belliard are having influenced the trade.

* BUTTERFINGERS: Rob Marchese bobbled away a home run ball and prayed for another opportunity to catch one. It came an inning later -- and he blew that one, too.

Marchese, a 41-year-old businessman from Queens was sitting in a folding chair in the first row in the right field stands at Yankee Stadium when he stood up and muffed Alex Rodriguez's first-inning two-run homer.

He then fumbled away Jason Giambi's solo shot in the second, which bounced out of right fielder Casey Blake's glove, off Marchese, and back onto the field. Blake then flipped the ball back into the stands, but over Marchese's head.

"My son is going to kill me because I'm always telling him to keep his eye on the ball," Marchese said. "He's 9 years old and he plays Little League."

-- From News Services

The Red Sox' Alex Cora, acquired yesterday in a trade with the Indians, started at shortstop.