Buchholz finally puts it all together

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Buchholz finally puts it all together

BOSTON This was the Clay Buchholz the Red Sox have been waiting for.

Dominant. Efficient. Durable. And winning.

Buchholz went eight innings against the Blue Jays Friday night at Rogers Center, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks with a season-high seven strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches, 71 for strikes, as the Sox beat the Jays, 7-2.

Buchholz improved his record to 5-2, dropping his ERA from 7.19 to 6.58.

Hes been building to that, thats for sure, said manager Bobby Valentine. Clay Buchholz was terrific tonight. Extra on his fastball, terrific changeup, changed his angle a little on his breaking ball, two strikes very competitive. I like that. He likes that. And I expect we can get more of the same.

The two runs Buchholz gave up were on solo home runs with two outs, one by Yunel Escobar in the third, the other by David Cooper in the seventh. Other than that, the Jays offered Buchholz little in the way of a challenge.

It felt good, Buchholz said. Its been building up to that last four or five times out. I just hadnt had the inning where I could shut them down without scoring you know, three or four runs in one inning. It came together tonight. I was able to get weak contact in big situations. A couple of DPs in big situations and guys hit and put up some runs.

Three of Buchholz's seven strikeouts were at the expense of Jose Bautista. Buchholz got him swinging at fastballs in the first and third innings, and looking at a curveball in the sixth.

Buchholz struck out the side in order in the sixth, starting with Bautista. He then got Edwin Encarnacion, also looking at a curveball, and Colby Rasmus looking at fastball.

Buchholz is pleased with the progress of his fastball.

It just felt good, comfortable, he said. I feel like my arm is getting
stronger. Given the back thing last year and starting to throw this offseason, it was more of a precautionary thing rather than trying to get it in shape to go out there and endure 200 innings of pitching. Its getting to the point where it should have in the middle of spring training right now.

In his last two starts, Buchholz has a 2.40 ERA, giving up four total earned runs on 15 innings with 13 strikeouts.

It was the longest Buchholz has gone into a game this season, and the longest since eight innings against the White Sox in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2010. His last longer outing was a complete-game shutout in Baltimore on June 4, 2010.

He wanted the eighth and I wanted him to do it, Valentine said. He didn't have many pitches. Now hes conquered eight. And it was only 108 pitches when it was all said and done. But there were a couple of tough innings. I know its only June 1 but when our team comes together and individuals build as the season goes on, thats how a team builds confidence in itself.

He came down and asked me if I had anything left and I said yeah, I have a lot left, Buchholz said.

Which is what the Red Sox want to hear.

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

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Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz's double in the 10th inning and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the inning. The relay throw on Ortiz's hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate but he avoided Luke Maile's first tag. Pedroia's momentum carried him past the plate and when he went back to touch it, Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night. Boston's magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Joe Kelly (4-0) went 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strikeout 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league-record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego on Apr. 22, 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa, Florida after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz's request after Fernandez's death. He had three hits in five at-bats and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBIs at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player. Alex Rodriguez is next with 30 homers and 73 RBIs.

HONORING BIG PAPI

Rays 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Chris Archer informally presented Ortiz with an oil painting of his 500th home run, which he hit at Tropicana Field last season. Ortiz was also given 34 special handmade Diamond Crown Maximus cigars and $5,000 donations in his name to the Miracle League of St. Petersburg, Florida and the University of South Florida Latino scholarship program.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Ortiz will play at Yankee Stadium for the final time during a three-game series against New York that starts Tuesday night. "Playing baseball in New York is something that is very special," Ortiz said. LHP David Price (17-8) will start for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (7-11) will face White Sox RHP James Shields (3-11) Monday night in the first of four games in Chicago.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.