Buchholz hurls Sox past Yanks, 5-4

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Buchholz hurls Sox past Yanks, 5-4

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK -- For all their struggles in the first six weeks of the season, the Red Sox don't seem to have any trouble beating the New York Yankees.

The Sox held off the Yanks 5-4 Friday night for their third win in four tries this year. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Boston.

Clay Buchholz turned in his best start of the season, limiting the Yankees to just two runs in seven innings. Buchholz fanned seven and walked just one to earn his second career win against New York.

The Yankees scratched together a run in the eighth off Daniel Bard and had two runners in scoring position with two outs. But Bard got Jorge Posada on an inning-ending groundout to second.

Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run in the ninth, but picked up his sixth save.

Adrian Gonzalez knocked in two runs -- one with a solo homer into the upper deck in right, another on a sacrifice fly -- upping his league-leading RBI total to 31.

Kevin Youkilis provided a huge opposite-field homer to right in the seventh. Youkilis' homer came off Joba Chamberlain, against whom Youkilis has had a number of confrontations.

The only runs off Buchholz came in the fifth when catcher Russell Martin belted a two-run homer to left-center.

STAR OF THE GAME: Clay Buchholz

Buchholz entered Friday with a career ERA of 6.25 against the Yankees, but dominated them over seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits.

Buchholz used his fastball, change and cutter effectively, getting more swings and misses than he has in any start this season.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Youkilis

The Sox were ahead by a run when Youkilis drove a pitch the other way to right for a two-run homer off New York reliever Joba Chamberlain.

Delivering the big blow off Chamberlain had to be extra satisfying for Youkilis, who has been a target of the Yankee reliever in the past. On numberous occasions, Chamberlain has come up and in around Youkilis's head, but Friday night, Youkilis had the last laugh.

The homer snapped a homerless stretch of 45 at-bats.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Joba Chamberlain.

Starter Bartolo Colon had limited the Red Sox to just three runs -- two earned -- in his start and the Yankees were looking for Chamberlain to keep them in the game in the
seventh.

Instead, after Colon gave up the go-ahead homer to Adrian Gonzalez, Chamberlain compounded things by giving up the two-run shot to Youkilis.

TURNING POINT

In the eighth inning, Jorge Posada got ahead of Daniel Bard 3-and-0 with two teammates in scoring position and the Yanks trailing by two.

But Bard battled back to a full count with Posada then reached back for something extra. On a 101-mph fastball, he got Posada to hit a chopper to second for the final out, stranding two.

BY THE NUMBERS: Dating back to the start of the 2010 season, the Red Sox are now 10-2 when facing former Cy Young Award-winning pitchers.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "He was very impressive...especially against a lineup like that.'' Terry Francona on Clay Buchholz.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

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Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

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Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.