Sox hope Doubront's pitching is contagious

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Sox hope Doubront's pitching is contagious

BOSTON If pitching is contagious, perhaps the last two outings are what the Red Sox starters need to catch.

Felix Doubront handcuffed the Indians Saturday night at Fenway Park, going six innings and giving up one run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. It was the second quality start of Doubront's seven outings this season, as he improved to 3-1, with a 4.46 ERA.

I thought once again Felix Doubront was terrific, said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Ahead in the count most of the night, and his fastball was alive, his breaking ball was very good. Did what he had to do to get us in a winning position.

Along with Clay Buchholzs performance Friday night, perhaps the Sox starting pitching, which at times has been horrendous this season, is beginning to recover. Buchholz went 6 13 innings, giving up four runs, three earned on eight hits and three walks with no strikeouts and one hit batter.

It was just the second time Sox starters have posted back-to-back quality starts this season, first since Jon Lester and Josh Beckett did so on April 28 and 29 in Chicago.

Yeah, I think that's a 100 percent true statement, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the possibility of good starting pitching being contagious.

If you watch the guy before you and you see him go after guys and attack them, and you got to be the same way. You cant be afraid to make contact with the strike zone. You cant be afraid of anything. You just got to go out there. Thats what we did the past two nights.

Doubront threw 109 pitches (66 strikes), his third-highest pitch total this season, behind 111 in his last start on May 7, and 110 on April 26. Those three games account for Doubronts three wins this season, as he improved to 3-1, a new career high in wins, with a 4.46 ERA.

With his second quality start in seven outings this season, he won his second straight start.

He just neutralized all of our left-handed hitters and even our switch hitters, said Indians manager Manny Acta.

We couldn't get any offense going against Doubront. He was pitching to both sides of the plate.

He now has 37 strikeouts in 38 13 innings this season, for a team-leading 8.69 strikeouts-per-nine innings. It was his fifth start with at least five strikeouts. No other Sox starter has more than three such outings.

I got the plan a couple of days ago, Doubront said. It was what I expected. It worked for me. I was keeping the ball down. They have many lefties. I was throwing in. My breaking balls were working.

I did the plan.

Its been a month of learning for Doubront.

Every start challenges me, he said. I always try to do my best and learn.

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.