Curt Schilling will return to the starting rotation Thursday night at Kansas City after an inconsistent stint as the Red Sox' closer.

"We've wanted all along to get him back in the rotation," Manager Terry Francona said yesterday before Boston played the Angels in a battle of division leaders.

Francona made the announcement about 12 hours after Schilling pitched two perfect innings with four strikeouts to earn the victory in Boston's 4-3, 10-inning triumph on Friday night.

Francona said Schilling will remain in the bullpen through the weekend.

"Anxious," Schilling replied when asked how he felt about starting again.

Mike Timlin is expected to replace Schilling in the closer's role, at least temporarily, until Keith Foulke returns from injury.

* PALMEIRO REMAINS OUT: Rafael Palmeiro was not in the Orioles' starting lineup again because of a sprained ankle and he is unlikely to play until early next week.

Palmeiro has been sidelined since rolling his right ankle while running out a grounder Tuesday.

* STILL MISSING: The slumping White Sox were without home run and RBI leader Paul Konerko for a second straight game while the first baseman recovers from a strained back. . . .

Angels OF Garret Anderson missed his seventh game due to irritation in his lower back and left knee.

* SECOND-HALF SURGE: The Devil Rays are 22-12 since the all-star break.

-- From News Services