Buchholz's gem sweeps LA out of Boston

Buchholz's gem sweeps LA out of Boston

BOSTON -- It may not have been a walk-off hit, but Dustin Pedroia had all the right moves in Sunday's 2-0 win against the Dodgers at Fenway.

Wasting no time, the Red Sox second baseman hit a single to third base in the first inning and eventually scored on a Kevin Youkilis single.

Yet, before the run scored, Pedroia swiped his seventh bag of the season, only to continue on to third thanks to Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake covering second base because of the shift put on with Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz up.

Often times with Ortiz up, opposing infielders shift to the right side of second base, as was the case in the first inning, so no one was at third to stop Pedroia from advancing.

"All good baserunners know where the defense is," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "If you are a hair late, it isn't going to work. His instincts are so good.

"When he took off I actually thought he thought the ball went into center field, thought he had one too many Red Bulls. It was great baserunning, and we really needed it."

Pedroia said any time Ortiz is up, he is always thinking about the shift and third base being open.

"If the opportunity presents itself, you got to get over there with less than two outs," Pedroia said. "It actually worked out perfect."

Completing their second sweep in a row, the Sox continued to role in Interleague games, going 10-2 overall this season, which ties them for the best mark in baseball.

That one run was also all Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz needed, going 6 2/3 innings and giving up three hits and striking out four.

Yet, just as the evening didn't start out well for Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, Buchholz needed 30 pitches in the first inning to get out of a bases-loaded jam. In the second as well, after giving up a single to Blake DeWitt and hitting Jamey Carroll, Buchholz got Matt Kemp to line out into a double play.

"He gathered himself after those first few innings, after that he was pretty economical," Francona said. "Once he got through those first two, he was a lot better. His changeup was a lot better."

The Sox tacked on another run in the third inning. After two singles by Marco Scutaro and Pedroia, a sac fly by Ortiz to left field made the score 2-0.

Pedroia finished the night with three hits (two singles and a triple) and one run scored.

Even after seeing Buchholz struggle in those first two innings, Sox catcher Victor Martinez saw the righty stay patient on the mound.

"He doesn't get desperate. He just stayed focus," Martinez said. "That's the great thing about him."

It was that defense, after two stellar double plays and a hard-hit ball to Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre in the fifth, that Buchholz was talking about after the game.

"The defense played amazing tonight," Buchholz said. "It was just a mix of everything tonight. Got some key outs."

"The play [Beltre] made tonight, I thought had no chance of being made. That is why he is here. He makes hard plays look routine."

Yet, Buchholz made it look routine from the third to the sixth inning, not give up a hit and striking out three over that span.

Buchholz moved to 10-4 on the season, joining just four other pitchers as the only 10-game winners in the Majors this season and making a strong case for why he should be included in this year's All-Star Game come July 13 in Anaheim.

Buchholz is now 7-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his last eight starts, dating all the way back to May 14.

"He is just a maturing young pitcher," Francona said. "His stuff is so good and now that he has some repetition under his belt, he is able to execute pitches as opposed to thinking about 19 different things that are going on. It is fun to watch."

After the solid performance by Buchholz, the bullpen combination of Daniel Bard, who pitched 1 1/3 innings and Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched one inning, gave up no runs and struck out two. For Papelbon it was his 16th save of the season.

"I think it is just having to go through some struggles before you can pitch with confidence in key situations in a game," Buchholz said. "And in a nut shell that is what I think has helped me get better."

Quinn Roberts is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.