Red Sox-Pirates Live: Clay Buchholz Pitches Another Gem As Pirates Beat Red Sox 4-2

Clay BuchholzFinal, Pirates 4-3: The Red Sox lost 4-3, but the moral victory here is how well Clay Buchholz has pitched the entire spring training. He allowed his first earned run of 2013 on Monday off a solo home run by Neil Walker.

Buchholz pitched five innings, walked two and struck out four. Designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway went 1-for-3 with a walk and drove in two of the Red Sox’ runs.

Jeremy Hazelbaker drove in the Red Sox’ third run in the top of the ninth on a single to right. He drove in Keury De La Cruz, who had doubled in the previous at bat.

The Red Sox take on Orioles at 1:35 p.m. on Tuesday.

End 8th, Pirates 4-2: The Pirates gained an insurance run as Michael McKenry hit a solo homer off Villarreal. After Villarreal walked Jordy Mercer and allowed singles to Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison, he got out of the inning by striking out Jared Goedert and Mel Rojas, then forcing Carlos Paulino to ground out to short.

Bryan Morris is now in to close for the Pirates. He’ll face Ryan Dent, Jonathan Hee and Keury De La Cruz.

Mid 8th, Pirates 3-2: New Pirates pitcher Chris Leroux retired Lavarnway, Shaw and Meneses 1, 2, 3 in the top of the 8th. Lavarnway flew out to left, Shaw struck out for the fourth time on the afternoon and Meneses flew out to right.

Oscar Villarreal has come in for Chris Carpenter. Villarreal has a 9.00 ERA on the spring.

End 7th, Pirates 3-2: The Red Sox lost the lead on a two-run home run from Gaby Sanchez. Carpenter let up the bomb.

Ryan Lavarnway, Travis Shaw and Heiker Meneses are due up for the Red Sox in the top of the 8th.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-1: The Red Sox got two runners on, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia stranded both as the Red Sox still lead 2-1.

Daniel Nava singled to right. Then he was replaced by pinch-runner Jeremy Hazelbaker. The next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., walked and Ronald Bermudez pinch ran.

Chris Carpenter has replaced Koji Uehara on the mound for the Red Sox.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Things got scary there for a second, but Koji Uehara pulled it together and didn’t allow a run. The Sox reliever let up a leadoff double to Starling Marte, but then retired Felix Pie, Russell Martin and Jose Tabata (pinch hitting for Jason Grilli) in order.

Old friend Mark Melancon is now pitching for the Pirates. The former Sox has pitched six innings in spring training with a 1.50 ERA and three strikeouts. Melancon had a 6.20 ERA in 2012 with Boston.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: This game is flying by all of a sudden. The Red Sox, too, went down in order. Travis Shaw struck out for the third time on the afternoon. He had a strong season in Single-A last season before moving up to Portland. SoxProspects.com ranks him as the No. 28 prospect in Boston.

Heiker Meneses popped out to second and Ryan Dent grounded out to the pitcher, Jason Grilli, who had been pitching for the US in the World Baseball Classic.

Koji Uehara has taken over for Buchholz. Buchholz’s final line is five innings, one hit, one earned run, two walks and four strikeouts. His ERA stands at 0.68 in spring training.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: The Pirates went down in order for the third consecutive innning. Buchholz struck out Brad Hawpe, Ivan De Jesus grounded out to third on a diving stop by Jonathan Hee and Brandon Inge, pinch hitting for pitcher James McDonald, flew out to Bradley on the first pitch he saw.

It was an odd decision by the Pirates to go without the designated hitter. McDonald struck out in his lone at bat. Jason Grilli will come in for McDonald now.

McDonald pitched five innings, allowed two runs — both earned — struck out six and walked two. His ERA now stands at 4.19 in spring training. He’s expected to be Pittsburgh’s No. 2 starter.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: The Red Sox only managed one hit in the top of the 5th inning. Daniel Nava led off the inning with a single to right. That raised his average to .303 in spring training.

Bradley hit into a fielder’s choice, Saltalamacchia struck out and Lavarnway flew out to center. Let’s see if Buchholz can continue his dominant outing. He’s only surrendered a home run to Neil Walker.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Hey guys, Doug Kyed taking over the live blog now. Buchholz retired the side in order. He got Pedro Alvarez to fly out and Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez to ground out.

Buchholz has now allowed just one hit and one earned run in four innings. He has three strikeouts and two walks. His spring training ERA now sits at 0.73. Lets hope this keeps up throughout the season.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Ryan Dent, Jonathan Hee and Shane Victorino did not follow through on our encouragement to hit, but perhaps that’s because James McDonald is buttoning up his pitches a bit better.

McDonald whiffed both Dent and Victorino. He’s suddenly become economical, and the early offensive outburst is fading into memory as this becomes a pitchers’ duel.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Clay Buchholz is back in the groove.

He had no trouble blowing through the Pirates in that inning, retiring Starling Marte (groundout), Felix Pie (flyout) and Russell Martin (strikeout). Martin was considered a boon signing for Pittsburgh, who snatched him from the Yankees, but he continues to struggle with offense, especially with his strikeouts. The Yankees have been heavily faulted for letting him go as a cost-cutting measure, but they’re hoping to find catching defense elsewhere.

Buchholz has thrown 24 pitches so far, a clean eight per inning, with three strikeouts as well.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Ryan Lavarnway was pining for another hit, but James McDonald would have none of it. He pitched away from Lavarnway a couple of times before working the count back to 3-2. Lavarnway hung in there, though, and drew a walk on a curveball that just missed.

That’s all the Red Sox could muster in this inning, though. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded out, Travis Shaw struck out on a foul tip, and Heiker Meneses popped out.

The Red Sox didn’t exactly bring out the big guns for today’s matchup, but they can hopefully get a little more offense out of the order the next time through. McDonald has shown a propensity for location problems, and the Sox should take advantage.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: Clay Buchholz’s scoreless streak to start spring training has ended.

Buchholz gave up a homer on a long fly to Neil Walker, the No. 5 hitter, to start the inning. Buchholz had gone 9 1/3 innings without a run, and the blustery conditions at the field helped end the feat.

Buchholz continued to be less than sharp throughout the frame. He got Gaby Sanchez on a flyout to left but walked Brad Hawpe.

Ryan Dent, filling in for Dustin Pedroia at second base, took care of an Ivan DeJesus popup for the second out. Buchholz then wrapped up the inning by retiring McDonald, who — in true spring training form — was batting even though the Red Sox are sending out a designated hitter today.

Buchholz got McDonald on a high fastball.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: James McDonald handed out a couple of free bases that inning, but the Red Sox could not capitalize.

Ryan Dent walked, and Daniel Nava was hit by a pitch, but a Jonathan Hee groundout, Shane Victorino strikeout and Jackie Bradley Jr. groundout spoiled any hopes of a rally.

Victorino didn’t do any damage that inning, but it’s nice to see him in action with the Sox now that the World Baseball Classic is over. He and Jacoby Ellsbury are looking to build up a quick rapport in the outfield, and Victorino said he’s looking forward to getting more at-bats in spring training now that his time with Team USA is over.

End 1st, Red Sox 2-0: Clay Buchholz may not have been his sharpest in the first inning, but he got the job done, and quickly, too.

Buchholz induced a couple of groundouts, walked Felix Pie and struck out Russell Martin to send the Pirates back onto the field.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 2-0: The rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the Red Sox’ bats, but Pirates pitcher James McDonald likely wouldn’t mind the sprinkles returning.

MacDonald had a rough first go at the Boston batting order. He gave up a leadoff triple to Shane Victorino, then Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jarrod Saltalamacchia got on base via a popup and walk, respectively, after Daniel Nava flied out. With the bases loaded and just one out, Ryan Lavarnway ripped a liner to left field that scored two runners.

The Red Sox looked ready to get the other two runners home, too, but the Pirates pulled through to end the shaky inning. Travis Shaw went down looking with a strikeout, and the Pirates escaped a Gaby Sanchez misplay in foul territory to get Heiker Meneses out on a fly ball with a diving catch from Brad Hawpe in right.

That gives Boston three hits and two runs for the inning, with a nice little cushion to get this one started.

2 p.m.: We’ve got a game! Let’s get rid of those clouds and get down to baseball.

1:05 p.m.: It appears we have a rain delay in sunny Florida. We could make weather jokes, but then again, we’re expected to get another half-foot of snow here tonight and tomorrow morning. So, enjoy your rain, Red Sox.

We’ll let you know when they’re ready to play.

1 p.m.: This is what John Farrell had to say about the pitching before the game:

“It’s spring training. Overall it’s been consistent. Individual guys have taken the adjustments they’ve worked on, taken them into the games, and that’s has been encouraging. There’s been some reverting back at times to old habits. With each successive appearances they’re starting to solidify those changes, which is why we’ve seen the consistency.”

He also talked about the Red Sox speeding up their time between pitches, which some have noted has been a nice byproduct of Josh Beckett’s slow setup time making its home in Los Angeles.

“We’ve tried to get back to a basic formula,” Farrell said. “Attack the zone, throw more strikes. Work quick. Dictate the tone or tempo of the game. Guys are realizing if they’re in control it takes away the downtime where other thoughts might creep in. The defense likes it and umpires have made some candid comments.”

12:10 p.m.: Here are your lineups, with the Pirates going with the ol’ pitcher at the DH spot (spring training!):

Red Sox

Shane Victorino, RF
Daniel Nava, LF
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Lavarnway, DH
Travis Shaw, 1B
Heiker Meneses, SS
Ryan Dent, 2B
Jonathan Hee, 3B

Clay Buchholz, P

Pirates

Starling Marte, CF
Felix Pie, LF
Russell Martin, C
Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Neil Walker, 2B
Gaby Sanchez, 1B
Brad Hawpe, RF
Ivan DeJesus, SS
James McDonald, P

12 p.m. ET: It’s only spring training, right? Well, this has been exactly the kind of spring training Boston wants to see from its rotation.

A year after using spring training to determine its fifth starter (which ended up being Daniel Bard) only to see Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett never really come out of the gate firing, Boston is clipping along this spring. The presumed starting five of Lester, Buchholz, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront are about the best they could look with Opening Day just two weeks away. Lester went a perfect six innings on Sunday, and the rotation has combined for 53 1/3 innings pitched, just 13 earned runs (that’s a 2.19 ERA), 43 strikeouts and 15 walks so far.

One of the strongest of the starters has been Buchholz, who at times last season was the Red Sox’ best. Buchholz has made four starts with 8 1/3 scoreless innings this spring. He has struck out seven, allowed six hits and walked two. He’ll lead the way today, with Kori Uehara, Oscar Villareal and Chris Carpenter also expected to pitch.

The Red Sox have had success against the Pirates before this spring. Boston beat Pittsburgh 16-6 and 5-2 when the calendar turned to March then dropped a 9-3 game on March 6.

First pitch is marked down for 1:05 p.m. Keep it here for updates and analysis as the Sox continue to tune up against the Pirates.

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