Brady tempers excitement in wake of big win

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Brady tempers excitement in wake of big win

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady did his best in the aftermath of New England's 42-14 win to remind people that Houston is a good team.
"It was a big game because they were 11-1, leading the AFC and we had to see where were at, see where we match up against the better teams in the league. We lost to Baltimore, whos winning their division; we beat Denver, whos leading their division; and we beat the Texans, who are leading their division.
"It's always good to win these games, certainly Monday night weve played in a lot of big games here but Monday night in December is an important one for us and we came out ready to go."
Brady completed 21-of-35 passes for 296 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Not bad against the NFL's No. 6 defense.
Coming into this week Houston's 'D' allowed the lowest third-down conversion percentage at 28.4. The Patriots went 6-for-12 on third down Monday night.
As Monday night rolled over into early Tuesday morning, the Texans hardly resembled the AFC's top team.
Houston averages 29.3 points per game (one spot behind New England's best 35.8), so finding the end zone just twice was disconcerting. Even the team's lowest output of the year, a 13 point effort in Chicago, came in a win.
Arian Foster certainly didn't help much. One of the league's best backs, Foster was held to just 46 yards on 15 carries.
Brady appreciated it.
"Our defense is playing with a lot of confidence and offensively, we feel like we can move the ball. We feel like we can put points on the board. Weve done that consistently throughout the season. Our defense has shown us they can really get the ball to us and play some complementary football and I thought we did that for the most part tonight."
Four quarters of complimentary football.
Or, in the words of Texans receiver Andre Johnson, "It was a good butt-whipping and that is pretty much it."
And this being New England's toughest test to date. Excellent timing.
"It needs to come together now," Brady said flatly. "This is the perfect time for it. We cant wait any longer than this. Weve got three games to play the three most important games of the year."
Ah, true. Overturning the Texans is swell and all, but there's still more football to play. And the Patriots have one of the NFC's fiercest teams waiting on the other end of this short week.
Perhaps that's why Brady tempered his excitement Monday night.
"It was just a good win. I dont want to make more of it than it really is. It was a very good opponent, we played them at home on Monday night, had an extra day to prepare, I thought we took advantage of it and we played a pretty good football game.
"I think there are still things we can do better and hopefully we do do them better because we're going to need to play almost a perfect game next week."

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

QUOTES

* "Where five days ago, he was able to harness things and command the baseball a little better, tonight that was not the case.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That was a momentum shift for us.'' - Farrell on the inning-ending double play that ended the fifth, with Mookie Betts throwing out Brett Lowrie at the plate.

* "They've done outstanding work, when our backs have been against the wall with some early exits by starters.'' Farrell on the bullpen contributions.

* "It's disappointing, (after) working hard on my mechanics the last five days.'' - Owens on his command struggles.

* "It's good to win a series, for sure, against this team.'' - Xander Bogaerts on the win.

NOTES

* Seven different Red Sox hitters produced an RBI.

* The Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 and 11-4 in their last 15.

* Hanley Ramirez, who homered for the second time in his last two games, has nine RBI in his last nine games.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.

* The Sox became the first team to beat the White Sox two games in a row at home.

STARS

1) Matt Barnes

Barnes picked up the win in relief, contributing five big outs in the middle innings and stabilizing the game for the Red Sox bullpen.

2) Dustin Pedroia

After going hitless Wednesday night in the cleanup spot, Pedroia was back in the No. 2 hole and got the Sox off on the right foot with a solo homer in the top of the first. He later added two more hits.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Returning from a one-game absence, Ramirez belted his second homer in as many games and also worked two walks, a good sign for someone who not long ago was too often expanding the strike zone.

First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

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First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

CHICAGO -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

* Henry Owens doesn't throw enough strikes to remain in the rotation.

Owens's time was coming to an end anyway, what with the imminent return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

But Owens may have pitched his way out of another start with his outing Thursday night. He faced 16 hitters and walked six hitters.

In every inning he began, he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach. This, despite his teammates scoring runs for him in every previous half inning.

* For a team without a lot of homers, the Red Sox hit their share Thursday night.

The Sox came into the game tied for 11th in homers in the American League, then hit three in the first six innings.

Each one of the homers -- by Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley - came with the bases empty, but together, they helped the Red Sox hold off the White Sox.

Ramirez's homer was particularly encouraging, since it was his second in the last three nights, and like the one he hit on Tuesday, was hit to the opposite field.

* The bullpen picked up a lot of slack.

When the Henry Owens Walkfest mercifully ended in the fourth inning, the Red Sox still had 18 outs to get.

Heath Hembree stumbled some, allowing a run on five hits -- the first run he's allowed this season -- but Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross. Jr took it from there, chipping in for the final 4 1/3 innings, all scoreless.

Thus far this season, the Red Sox have won four games in which their starter failed to get to the fifth inning. Some of that is a tribute to the offense, which has rallied a few times to make up early deficits.

But it's also due in part to the bullpen, which has provided quality relief and bought time for the offense to catch up.

* The Sox continue to play well on the road.

Through the first four road series, the Red Sox are 4-0-1, having done no worse than a split in their road sets to date.

Learning to win on the road now can be a useful trait for this team in the second half, when the schedule has them playing far more games away from home in the final two and a half months of the season.

* Boston had a balanced offensive attack.

Every member of the starting lineup except one Thursday had either an extra-base hit or a sacrifice fly. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who continues to run hot and cold, was the only starter without one or the other, though he did have a single, walk twice and score a run.

In all, seven different players recorded one RBI.