By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Left-hander Andrew Miller wasn't dominant Thursday night, but still managed to record his third win in four starts as a member of the Red Sox.
The left-hander went five innings and threw 97 pitches, giving up three runs on six hits, with four walks and no strikeouts and left the game with a 5-3 lead. He ended up getting the win as the Sox pulled away for a 10-4 victory over the Orioles.
High pitch count, no strikeouts, some walks, manager Terry Francona said of Millers outing. Sometimes theres some moving parts that hes still working on. Saying that, he limited the damage, controlled the game, which is good.
I think theres more in there. I think he thinks so, too.
Miller, now 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA, knows he still has work to do. His percentage of strikes Thursday night was only 58 percent, compared to a percentage of 63 in his four starts overall.
"We've won the games I've pitched. I'm certainly satisfied with that," Miller said. "Ultimately, efficiency and throwing strikes, I certainly have work to do and we'll put that work in."
Franconas first big-league manager was Dick Williams, who led the Sox in their 1967 Impossible Dream season. Francona was a rookie for the Expos when Williams was their manager in 1981.
Williams, well-known for his tough, no-nonsense approach, died Thursday at the age of 82 at a hospital near his home in Henderson, NV.
He was a brilliant manager. Everybody knew it, Francona said. I actually spent more time talking to him when he became a special assistant with the Yankees. I went to watch a B game once over in Tampa and he was talking to me, and I was like, Damn, Dick, I played for you and you wouldnt talk to me. And we laughed like crazy.
"He was a really good baseball man.
Francona made his big league debut under Williams in Houston on Aug. 19, 1981.
I was supposed to start, Francona said. Nolan Ryan was pitching. That was when they had the air traffic controllers strike and I got to the Astrodome late. So I got to the game in the fifth inning. Found my way into the dugout. He said, Kid, youre leading off next inning. No hello, no nothing, that was it."
There was one good thing about his late arrival: He didn't have to face Ryan.
"They took Nolan out," Francona said. "We had just come back from the players' strike" and Ryan was lifted because he was still working his way back into shaoe.
"Then I remember my third game," Francona said. "I didn't get a bunt down. He met me at the dugout and reminded me I better get the bunt down or Id be doing it in Triple-A Denver.
"I also remember making a baserunning play where I took an extra base. And I just happened to look up when I got to second. He was standing up like he reacted positively. I remember thinking this guy cares. He probably didnt want you to know that. But I remember thinking, 'All right.'
Dustin Pedroia's three-run homer was his third home run in his last eight games. He went 2-for-5 and extended his on-base streak to 21 games, going back to June 15. It is the longest active streak in the A.L., and the third of his career of at least 20 games.
Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-5, extending his on-base streak to 19 games.
With Jacoby Ellsbury, Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez each homering, it is the first time the top three batters in the Sox lineup have homered since June 15, 2008, when Ellsbury, Pedroia, and J.D. Drew did so.
Jed Lowrie remains on the DL, since June 17, with a left shoulder strain.
Got to get that strength a little more equal on both sides, Francona said. Hes not there yet. Hes improving, but hes not there yet.
Francona is pleased with the work hes been getting from the catching tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek.
Saltalamacchia kind of corralled it there, Francona said. We were out in Anaheim and Saltalamacchia had kind of a rough day and things kind of snowballed and I think 'Tek helped a little bit taking some of the load off.
"Now hes going out there playing. When hes in the lineup, hes running the game, hes seeing pitches. Hell drive the ball. Between he and 'Tek, were getting some production . . . Hes throwing the ball better. Its been fun to watch . . .
"I think 'Teks helped him a lot. Thats not always the case where the backup player helps the starter. I think hes lucky to have 'Tek."
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen