Doubront, Red Sox shut down D-Backs, 4-0

Doubront, Red Sox shut down D-Backs, 4-0
August 4, 2013, 5:00 pm
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BOSTON -- Diamondbacks leadoff man AJ Pollack walked back to the visitor's dugout flummoxed. Felix Doubront had pin-pointed a changeup at the bottom of the strike zone that Pollack didn't like, but it didn't matter. He was the first of what would be many Arizona hitters frustrated on a day dominated by Doubront.

The Red Sox lefty pitched seven scoreless innings to help beat the Diamondbacks Sunday, 4-0. Not overpowering but efficient, Doubront allowed five hits, struck out five and walked none.

It was Doubront's second career scoreless start -- his first coming back in June against the Rays when he went eight full innings -- and represented a continuing trend of strong performances by the 25-year-old. 

He has given up three earned runs or less in 19 of his 20 starts this season. Since returning to the rotation after a short stay in the bullpen earlier this year, he has a 2.55 ERA in 15 starts.

Two brief Red Sox rallies in the fifth and sixth innings gave Doubront all the support he would need.

Stephen Drew led off the fifth with a single, which was followed by a single from Brock Holt. Jacoby Ellsbury knocked home Drew with a sacrifice fly and Holt later crossed the plate on a one-out double by Dustin Pedroia.

In the sixth, it was the bottom of the order yet again that got things started. After back-to-back singles by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew and a sacrifice bunt by Holt, Ellsbury hit a fly ball to right field that Arizona's Gerardo Parra lost in the sun. The ball dropped in for a single and Saltalamacchia scored. The score grew to 4-0 when Shane Victorino's single to center scored Drew from second base.

Victorino had two singles and was hit by two pitches after running into the right field wall in foul territory in an attempt to snag a foul ball in the third inning. The switch hitter batted right-handed for the remainder of the game, even against righty starter Brandon McCarthy. He hit lefty in his first at-bat against McCarthy in the first inning. 

Red Sox relievers kept the Diamondbacks off-balance for the remainder of the afternoon, throwing two scoreless innings. Drake Britton entered in for an injured Matt Thornton with no outs in the eighth to retire the side, while Koji Uehara came on to pitch a scoreless ninth.

STAR OF THE GAME: Felix Doubront
Doubront's start on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park was the latest display of how much progress he has made since spring training when he struggled with command and it took him time to get into pitching shape. "He's the kind of guy who started slow because of setbacks in spring training," said pitching coach Juan Nieves, "but we're seeing the fruits now."
He was robbed of a single in the second inning when Aaron Hill made a diving stop up the middle and was able to turn an inning-ending double play. After thatn, Drew hit two singles, walked, and scored two runs. He now has seven hits in his last 15 at-bats.
THE GOAT: Brandon McCarthy
Arizona's righty starter was able to keep the Red Sox off the board for four innings, but it's a wonder how he did. He finished the game having pitched just 4.1 innings with 97 pitches. The two runs he allowed in the fifth could have been more had Diamondbacks manager Kurt Gibson not acted sooner. McCarthy was out of gas early and forced his bullpen to throw too many innings against one of the game's highest-scoring offenses.
When Drew and Brock Holt hit back-to-back singles to lead off the fifth inning, McCarthy's day quickly fell apart around him. The Red Sox managed just two runs in the inning, but that mini-rally helped them get to Arizona's bullpen early.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2-for-2, on base four times
After running into the right field wall in pursuit of a foul ball, Shane Victorino got on base every time he came up.
"It's his birthday? Well, happy birthday."  -- Felix Doubront on his strong outing, which happened to come on manager John Farrell's 51st birthday.