Fourth inning gets best of Buchholz in otherwise solid outing

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Fourth inning gets best of Buchholz in otherwise solid outing

SEATTLE -- On the stat sheet, Clay Buchholz is no different than the five Red Sox starters who preceded him to the mound on this nightmarish road trip: like them, he was tagged with yet another loss Monday.

But a closer inspection showed that Buchholz threw far better than almost all of them and, with a little better support and a pinch of luck, might have been able to snap the Sox' losing streaks instead of extending it to seven straight.

Buchholz gave the Sox seven innings Monday, six of which were very good. It was the fourth inning, in which the Seattle Mariners scored all four of their runs on the afternoon, that sank him.

"Clay did what he had to do," said Bobby Valentine. "The one inning . . . well, you saw it."

"Clay deserved better than what we allowed to happen," said catcher Ryan Lavarnway. "He deserved better than that."

The inning began with what Valentine labeled a "broken-bat jam-shot'' in which Franklin Gutierrez reached. Buchholz then barely grazed Kyle Seager's uniform top with an inside pitch, giving the Mariners two on with nobody out.

Two singles to right from John Jaso and Justin Smoak produced two runs. A flyball to shallow center off the bat of Eric Thames was caught in shallow center by Jacoby Ellsbury, who threw home only to have the ball skip past catcher Ryan Lavarnway, with the error charged to Ellsbury.

"I wish they'd given me that error," said Lavarnway. "Jacoby's trying to get the guy out. He did exactly what he should have. I played it into an in-between hop. I need to go out and smother that ball. I absolutely need to keep that ball in front of me."

Two batters later, Jose Iglesias bobbled the transfer of the ball after fielding a grounder, allowing Carlos Peguero to reach and Smoak to score.

Outside of the fourth, Buchholz yielded just two other hits and one walk. He had four one-two-three innings. But the Sox' margin of error is razor thin these days and the fourth inning proved his undoing.

"Tough luck today," shrugged Buchholz of the inning. "Stuff happens. I've been saying for about a month and a half now, but we've got to find a way to push along. We can't come to the field every day thinking about the day before. You've got to sort of forget about it.

"We're not really playing good baseball right now and not finding a way to win in all aspects of the game. It's pretty tough."

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

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Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON - The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.