Red Sox 3 Blue Jays 2
BOSTON — Clay Buchholz’s curveball was so sharp that he threw it for a strike when he didn’t even try.
Buchholz allowed just three singles in 8 1-3 innings, and Alex Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia’s RBI singles made up for a Boston offence that sputtered in the early innings as the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Saturday night.
Mixing fastballs with a changeup and his sharp curve, Buchholz struck out nine and walked two three days before the two-year anniversary of his no-hitter over the Baltimore Orioles in his second big-league start.
Buchholz’s first batter of the game may have been an indication that he had good stuff: Jose Bautista ducked out of the way as a curveball broke over the plate for a called third strike.
“I had a good one from my first batter to my last,” he said. “I had a good one in the bullpen. I was actually was trying to throw (the one to Batista) down in the dirt. It ended up catching part of the plate.”
The Red Sox won for fifth time in six games and maintained their 2 1/2 game lead over Texas in the AL wild-card chase. The Rangers beat Minnesota, 3-0, on Saturday.
Buchholz gave up an infield hit to Kevin Miller in the second, one up the middle by Lyle Overbay in the seventh and Batista’s leading off the ninth.
“That was a terrific game,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “I actually think when he establishes his fastball and makes hitters respect that, it makes his changeup that much better and you start adding two breaking balls for strikes, it gives them a lot of different looks.”
Hideki Okajima gave up Adam Lind’s RBI double that scored Batista and Overbay’s run-scoring single before Jonathan Papelbon got the final two outs for his 32nd save.
Toronto starter Ricky Romero (11-6) took the loss, giving up three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Buchholz’s strong pitching overcame a Red Sox offence that squandered three excellent chances in the first three innings. Boston had nine baserunners with six hits, two walks, a hit batsman and a passed ball mixed in, but it could only score one run.
In fact, Buchholz felt he may have had better control Saturday than in his no-hitter two years ago.
“I think it was better tonight than it was that one night,” he said “I’d have to go look at the film to see how I was throwing.”