Buchholz takes big step forward

Buchholz takes big step forward
May 12, 2012, 5:07 am
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BOSTON -- It wasn't Clay Buchholz' longest outing of the season, but it was his best.

The righty picked up his team-leading fourth win of the season while allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks in 6.1 innings on Friday night to lead the Red Sox to a 7-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night at Fenway Park.

The win snapped a three-game losing skid for Boston, while Buchholz snapped a skid of six-consecutive starts in which he allowed five or more earned runs.

"In my humble opinion, he had better movement tonight, than I've seen him with," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win.

After getting out of a first-inning jam, Buchholz cruised through to the seventh inning. Entering that seventh inning, Buchholz allowed just one run on six hits and a pair of walks.

That one run gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and for a moment, it looked as if Buchholz was going to continue that streak of allowing at least five runs a game.

After recording the first two outs in the top of the first, Buchholz walked Asdrubal Cabrera and then let up a two-out single to Travis Hafner. Cabrera then scored on Carlos Santana's single down the right-field line.

Buchholz then hit Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch to load the bases. The sudden turn of events forced Valentine to make a mound visit of his own.

"I didn't want him to let that game get away from him because of anything other than him being as good as he can possibly be," said Valentine when asked what he said to Buchholz in that mound visit.

"I just wanted Clay to understand that I believed in him, and everybody behind him thought he was a good pitcher. Prove it to the guys in front of him."

"It was good," said Buchholz. "He basically just came out there and said, 'You know what, you need to get your stuff right and go after these guys and get these guys out so that we can get into the dugout and win a ballgame.'"

Buchholz got the next batter -- Michael Brantley -- to ground out to end the inning, and it was an out that he said gave him a big-time confidence booster, which led to only four Indians hits and no runs in the next five innings.

"He was breaking left-handers' bats. We haven't seen that," said Valentine. "They were hitting it off the end. He was getting in on them, snapping them in half. It indicates to me that his ball had that action that we needed to have for him to be successful."

Buchholz said that he had never pitched to a lineup that featured all lefties, and because of that, he called the experience "mentally draining," and the hard-hitting lineup forced him to have just his second-career game with no strikeouts.

But Buchholz was able to get through to the seventh inning, where he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Rich Hill came in to relieve Buchholz after throwing 111 pitches. He and Andrew Miller were on the mound to allow the next three runs that were all added to Buchholz' stat line.

"Now he can look at his record of four wins, and say that he's really building on something," said Valentine. "He's coming off a good outing, next time he walks out there."

Not just good, his best of 2012.