Red Sox 7, Astros 2: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz lead Sox past Astros

Jim Rogash

The Red Sox got another terrific performance from Clay Buchholz, and backed it up with a big offensive night that included a 2013 first for David Ortiz.

The Red Sox defeated the Astros 7-2 Thursday night, making Clay Buchholz the first pitcher to five wins in 2013.

On a night that was more about taking care of business than anything else, the Red Sox did a good job of jumping on the Astros early. Daniel Nava drew a one-out walk to get the Boston attack going, moved to second on a passed ball, and then quickly scored when Dustin Pedroia hit a ground ball single back up the middle. Pedroia would also move to second in a hurry, stealing the base off an inattentive Phil Humber, and then scored himself when David Ortiz picked up his ninth hit of the year in the first at bat of his fifth game.

Mike Napoli would break up the string of baserunners by striking out, starting a series of difficult at bats for him that would continue until Humber left the game. Mike Carp, however, still had his magic going, breaking his bat and sending a shard toward Carlos Pena along with a ground ball. Distracted by the bat, Pena let the grounder eat him up, giving Carp and RBI double and setting up Jarrod Saltalamacchia to cap off the four-run inning with a single of his own.

Clay Buchholz, meanwhile, was not quite at his best early on, and it would hurt him in the second and third. Mike Carp was partly to blame for a run in the second inning, badly misplaying a catchable fly ball off the bat of Chris Carter, who would eventually score on a double play ball. Buchholz, however, was fully to blame for the double and single that scored another in the third. With his pitch count already very high, Buchholz didn't seem like he was going to get too far past the fifth.

The Red Sox, however, weren't terribly interested in letting it become a game again. David Ortiz led off the bottom of the third by taking a fastball down broadway to deep center field for his first homer of 2013, then two innings later he picked up his third hit of the game to start a quick two-run rally capped off by a Will Middlebrooks double that left the Sox ahead 7-2.

That lead would've been enough to allow John Farrell to turn to his weaker bullpen options to spell Buchholz after a short outing, but his starter didn't end up putting him in that situation after all. After a difficult first three, Buchholz tightened up tremendously from the fourth on. He would face just fifteen batters in recording fourteen outs from then until there were outs in the eighth. Jose Altuve would end Clay Buchholz' night with a single, but Buchholz left with another tremendous outing behind him, including 10 more strikeouts.

Though Buchholz' outing was long, it left just enough time for Daniel Bard to jump into the game in the ninth. He wasn't perfect, with some pitches clearly not quite going where he wanted them to, but he had plenty enough to get through the inning allowing just one hit. It was a show of improvement, if not perfection, and good to see on a night that saw the Red Sox hit 15-7 on the year.

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