Clay Buchholz figures a slump will come his way at some point so he’ll enjoy this run while it lasts.
Buchholz pitched five-hit ball over seven innings to improve to 7-0, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2 Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
David Ortiz delivered a two-run single in the first off Hector Santiago (1-3) and stole third for the first time in his career. Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits, walked twice and made a big catch in center field to back Buchholz and help the Red Sox come away with their sixth win in eight games.
They’re now 9-1 with Buchholz starting, and he’s gone at least six innings each time out.
”You’re going to take your lumps and bumps in the road,” he said.
But it’s been a smooth ride so far for him, although he got some help from his defense in this one.
Jonny Gomes made a sliding catch on Paul Konerko’s line drive to left with two on to end the first, and Ellsbury raced to the center-field warning track to snag Alexei Ramirez’s liner with a runner on and two out in the fifth to preserve a 2-1 lead.
Boston added to it in the eighth when Will Middlebrooks hit a sacrifice fly to right off Nate Jones after the Red Sox loaded the bases against Brian Omogrosso in the eighth, and Mike Napoli scored on a passed ball by Tyler Flowers to make it 4-1. The Red Sox scored two more in the ninth to put this one away.
Even so, Konerko was feeling pretty good about how the White Sox played in this series.
”It’s good for our record, but I think it should be good for our confidence that we belong on the same field as some of these teams,” he said. ”I don’t think we doubt that anyway, but it reinforces it.”
Buchholz allowed just one run while lowering his American League-leading ERA to 1.73. He also matched the best start by a Boston pitcher since Josh Beckett in 2007 and joined Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore and Arizona’s Patrick Corbin as the only unbeaten pitchers in the majors with seven or more wins.
”I thought tonight, still, he had very good stuff,” manager John Farrell said. ”He’s still pitching in the low to mid-90s with his fastball. The biggest thing is you never can sit on any one pitch in any given count.”
The only run Buchholz allowed came on an RBI groundout in the third by Alex Rios, who extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 with a single in the sixth.
The White Sox also got a solo homer from Konerko off Andrew Bailey. Otherwise, the White Sox couldn’t get the big hit. They were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position after doing all their scoring with two outs while winning the previous two games 6-4 and 3-1.
Santiago wasn’t quite as dominant after Jose Quintana took a no-hitter into the seventh the previous night, but he gave the White Sox exactly what they needed.
He settled down after the shaky start and threw six solid innings for the White Sox with Chris Sale scratched because of mild tendinitis in his left shoulder. The left-hander allowed two runs and three hits, struck out nine and walked four pitching on three days’ rest in what might be his last start for a while.
That’s because he or Dylan Axelrod could be headed to the bullpen with John Danks expected to return from his shoulder injury.
”It’s tough, but that’s part of being in baseball,” manager Robin Ventura said. ”We have to figure out what’s best for us, so we’ll figure that out on Friday.”
NOTES: Ortiz was having some fun after the game in light of his steal of third in the first inning. Asked if he’s the new Rickey Henderson, he said, ”So they say.” And when he saw the steal sign, he said, ”I was like, `You sure?”’ … The Red Sox held OF Shane Victorino out of the lineup for the second straight game because of tightness in his left hamstring. Manager John Farrell said there has been improvement and is hopeful he won’t have to go on the disabled list. … Farrell said backup C David Ross (concussion) will go on a rehab assignment Thursday at Double-A Portland. … The White Sox said after the game that Danks will be activated from the disabled list and make his first start of the year against Miami on Friday. Danks is coming off a season-ending shoulder injury and his not pitched since May 19, 2012. He had surgery in August to repair a capsule tear and remove debris in his rotator cuff and biceps. To make room for Danks, the White Sox optioned left-hander Donnie Veal to Triple-A Charlotte after Wednesday’s game.