Daisuke Matsuzaka dazzled in an afternoon start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, taking a big step toward a return to the big club in a couple of weeks.
The right hander yielded only two hits and a walk in five scoreless innings, earning the decision in a 1-0 win over Rochester. Matsuzaka struck out three, throwing 43 of his 73 pitches for strikes.
On the 15-day disabled list due to a neck strain that bogged him down early in spring training, Matsuzaka pitched to the minimum number of batters until two outs into the fourth inning.
He ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth, walking one man and hitting two to load the bases before inducing a pop-up to end the inning.
Matsuzaka is expected to get two more starts at the minor league level.
Alan Embree threw one scoreless inning in relief of Matsuzaka. The lefty struck out two.