Nationals stymie Sox in Dice-K's return, 4-2

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Nationals stymie Sox in Dice-K's return, 4-2

BOSTON Before the game, manager Bobby Valentine said he was anxious to get Daisuke Matsuzakas first start in his Red Sox managerial tenure over with because he had no idea what to expect.

Matsuzaka gave Valentine five innings, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts and a home run. He threw 80 pitches, 52 strikes, facing 20 batters. But Valentine may still not be sure what he can expect from the Japanese right-hander.

The Sox lost their second straight game, 4-2, to the Nationals at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon.

Matsuzaka started out strong. He struck out Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman, both swinging at sliders, with a Bryce Harper fly out sandwiched in between, in the first inning. He needed just 12 pitches, nine for strikes, in the inning.

Despite a lead-off, first-pitch home run by Adam LaRoche in the second, Matsuzaka looked solid through the first three innings when he faced one batter over the minimum. He had five strikeouts in that span three swinging at sliders, one looking at a slider, and another looking at a 91-mph fastball.

But he ran into trouble in the fourth, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk. A nice double play started by Adrian Gonzalez sliding catch in right field and then doubling Ian Desmond off first, saved Matsuzaka from more damage.

The Sox offense, meanwhile, could do little with Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez. In five previous starts against the Sox, Gonzalez had not gone more than six innings and had not allowed fewer than three runs.

In the first four innings, though, the Sox had just one baserunner when David Ortiz doubled to lead off the second then took third on a wild pitch. But that was as far as he got.

The Sox had baserunners in the fifth and sixth innings, without being able to score, before driving Gonzalez from the game in the seventh after a one-out walk to Will Middlebrooks and a single by Mike Aviles.

Right-hander Craig Stammen entered the game and walked pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney. Lefty Michael Gonzalez entered to face pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit a first-pitch two-run single off the wall in left field. But Gonzalez struck out Daniel Nava, looking at a 92-mph fastball, and got Dustin Pedroia to pop out in foul ground to first baseman Adam LaRoche to end the Sox threat.

Franklin Morales relieved Matsuzaka to throw three perfect innings with three strikeouts. Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth.

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Red Sox rally for 8-7 spring training victory over Twins

Red Sox rally for 8-7 spring training victory over Twins

Brian Bogusevic's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Red Sox a come-from-behind, 8-7, spring training victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Bogusevic, 32, an outfielder signed to a minor league deal this winter, played in Japan last season and hasn't been in the major leagues since 2015 with the Phillies.

Reliever Tyler Thornburg, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers, had a rough outing in his Red Sox debut. He allowed five runs (four earned), four hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning as the Red Sox fell behind 7-3 by the fourth inning.

Left-hander Roenis Elias started for Boston and allowed a first-inning home run to Byungho Park. He struck out three in two innings.

Mookie Betts went 2-for-3 with a double and first base prospect Sam Travis, hitting .500 this spring, tied it at 7 with an RBI double in the sixth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said earlier Saturday that Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to make his first start on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Fort Myers and Chris Sale will make his first start March 6 against the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach. Rodriguez injured his knee in winter ball in Venezuela and threw his first batting practice session on Saturday.

The Red Sox next travel to Port Charlotte to play the Rays Sunday at 1:05 p.m.