Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0

Clay Buchholz has grown from a frustrated pitcher into one of
baseball’s best in just two years.

The Red Sox right-hander pitched six innings of five-hit ball to
lower his AL-best ERA to 2.26 and Bill Hall hit a two-run homer as
Boston beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 in a rain-delayed game
Sunday.

”I think he’s gaining confidence with every start. He knows
what he needs to do,” Hall said. ”He expects to go out and be
dominant and he’s been that all year long.”

It wasn’t always that way for Buchholz (15-5).

He was 0-7 in his last 10 starts in 2008 when he finished at 2-9
with a 6.75 ERA.

”There’s a couple of times (I wanted) to go home, just chalk it
up for a season and head into the offseason and forget about that
year,” he said. ”But now I feel like if I make a mistake I can
come back and readjust. … It’s definitely a big confidence
thing.”

The game began 1 hour, 44 minutes late and was stopped for 59
minutes by more rain with two outs in the top of the third of a
scoreless tie. That delay didn’t bother Buchholz, who needed just
two pitches after play resumed to end the inning by retiring Adam
Lind on a fly ball to left field.

It was typical of the way he has been pitching lately.

He began the day with a 2.36 ERA and extended his streak to 23
1-3 innings without allowing an earned run. He won his fifth
consecutive decision and gave up three runs or less for the 15th
time in his last 16 starts. He allowed just five hits for the third
straight game, struck out seven and walked three.

Buchholz has started 22 games this year, surpassing his previous
career-high of 16 last season.

”It’s easy to say (he’s maturing) when a guy gets everybody
out,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. ”That’s the normal
course of growing up.”

Shaun Marcum (11-7) retired Boston’s first 12 batters after
pitching a one-hitter in his previous game, a 3-1 win at Oakland
last Monday night. That hit was a homer by Conor Jackson leading
off the seventh.

On Sunday, the Red Sox unleashed their power in the fifth. David
Ortiz led off with a triple to left-center that center fielder
Vernon Wells, shaded toward right field, couldn’t reach despite a
hustling attempt. On the next pitch, Adrian Beltre lined a double
to left, scoring Ortiz.

Marcum set down the next two batters before Hall hit a towering
shot over the left field wall on a 2-1 pitch for his 17th homer of
the year.

”He made three bad pitches” to Ortiz, Beltre and Hall,Toronto
manager Cito Gaston said. ”He threw 91 pitches – three bad ones.
Otherwise, he pitched a good game.”

The righty then retired seven of his remaining eight hitters and
left after the seventh. He gave up four hits with six strikeouts
and no walks.

”I felt like I came back stronger after the delay,” Marcum
said. ”My arm was loose. I stayed loose in the clubhouse, kept
stretching.”

Jason Frasor took over in the eighth and allowed two runs on a
run-scoring double by Ryan Kalish and an RBI single by Ortiz.

The Blue Jays couldn’t get going offensively even after Buchholz
left. Daniel Bard worked the seventh and Felix Doubront, who
entered with a 3-0 lead, worked the last two innings for his second
save in three opportunities.

Toronto managed six hits, all singles, and had its best chance
in the first. Fred Lewis led off with a walk and took third on Jose
Bautista’s one-out single. But Buchholz ended the threat with an
infield popup and a groundout.

He struck out the side in the second, when he allowed a walk and
a single, and fanned two more batters in the third. He struck out
Lyle Overbay leading off the fourth and allowed his next runner on
a single by Jose Molina to start the fifth. But a flyout and a
double play ended that inning.

Francona said Buchholz wanted to keep pitching after the delay
and, ”as long as he’s OK physically, it wasn’t an issue.”

Buchholz said he felt better when play resumed. But he tired in
the sixth when singles by Bautista and Wells put runners at first
and second with no outs. But they were stranded there as Lind
struck out, Overbay flied out and John McDonald lined out to second
baseman Jed Lowrie.

Toronto won the series opener 16-2 then lost the next two to
drop to 4-11 against Boston.

”We just haven’t played well against these guys all year, not
just Buchholz,” Gaston said. ”We win one out of three. It doesn’t
matter who they put out there against us.”

Notes: Toronto 3B Edwin Encarnacion missed his third straight
game with a sore left wrist. … Kalish’s double broke an 0-for-15
slump. … Hall is 3 for 4 with 3 homers and 5 RBIs in his career
against Marcum.