Early offense plenty as Buchholz sets the tone

Red Sox pitching holds split Pirates squad hitless until seventh inning

Early offense plenty as Buchholz sets the tone

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Led off by starter Clay Buchholz's three hitless innings, five Boston pitchers combined on a four-hitter Sunday as the Red Sox downed the Pirates, 4-1, at McKechnie Field.

Buchholz, who had allowed a run on three hits in his only other outing of the spring, issued a leadoff walk in the third inning to Jordy Mercer for Pittsburgh's only baserunner until the Pirates broke through for three hits in the seventh.

Gregory Polanco led off with a single to deep short off Rubby de la Rosa and was erased on a force-play grounder by Chase d'Arnaud, who stole second before scoring on Chris McGuiness' single.

Charlie Morton, unscored upon in five innings in his first two starts, fell behind 2-0 on a two-run single by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the second and Mike Carp added a solo homer off him in the third. Carp has two homers and three RBIs this spring -- all in two games against the Pirates, who have reportedly been scouting him in the event they decide to add a veteran lefty-hitting first baseman.

Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon, the back end of the Pirates' bullpen, each worked a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

Up next: The Red Sox will host the Rays on Monday in Fort Myers, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET (live on MLB.TV), and southpaw Jon Lester will be matched against Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi. Veteran left-hander Chris Capuano and Anthony Ranaudo are also expected to pitch for the Red Sox.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.