Any time you have Matt Garza on the mound facing Clay Buchholz — or at least the latest version of Clay Buchholz — you have a war of attrition on your hands. This time around, Boston won the battle, thanks to an eighth-inning, two-run bomb by Dustin Pedroia, which broke a 1-1 tie and powered the Red Sox to their second crushing victory over the Rays in 24 hours. The Rays have now lost 10 in a row.
With Sunday's nightcap looming, the Sox desperately needed a quality start from Buchholz in order to preserve the bullpen. Buchholz delivered, further solidifying himself as a permanent fixture of this rotation with seven innings of one-run ball.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Sept. 13, 2009
Headliner: The honor easily could have gone to either pitcher, but since Buchholz's squad came out on top courtesy of some timely offense from the top of the order, he gets the title. On the afternoon of a double-header following an epic night game that wasn't called until around midnight, the Red Sox needed a high-quality start from its young hurler, and they got exactly what they asked for. Buchholz, who has not lost since Aug. 13 and has allowed just five runs total in his last four starts, allowed one run and five hits in seven innings.
Dirt Dog: It's hard to imagine what Boston's offense would be like without Victor Martinez. It seems like every time Boston needs a decisive, game-changing hit, Martinez is there. On Sunday afternoon, he singled home the game's first run in the sixth inning to put Boston up 1-0 against a lights-out Garza. Then, after Pedroia's go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, he knocked a one-out double off the Green Monster to chase Garza and put the nail in the coffin for the Rays.
Special shout-out to reliever Hideki Okajima, who — after a scoreless eighth — earned the win and improved to 6-0.
Better Luck Next Time: Matt Garza certainly has been unlucky lately. Last time out, he faced CC Sabathia and allowed zero runs over seven innings but still couldn't get a win. He fared worse on Sunday, allowing four runs in 7 1/3 innings against the Sox, but he was lights out until the sixth. Pedroia's one-out, two-run bomb in the eighth effectively ended his afternoon, his bid for his eighth win of the season, and any hope of his offense coming around to support him someday soon.
Key Moment: Time was running out when the Sox came up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth. With the game deadlocked at one and a cruising Garza on the mound, David Ortiz shot a pinch-hit double to right. Pedroia followed that up with a two-run shot into the Boston bullpen to put the Sox up 3-1 and seal the win.
On Deck: There won't be much time for the Rays to recover from their second tough loss in 24 hours. Instead, they have to try and salvage one game of this three-game set or else kiss their dwindling postseason hopes goodbye for good. Luckily, their shot at redemption is pretty decent: James Shields (9-10, 4.02 ERA) takes the mound for Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, though, the dormant offense — which has mustered two runs in its past two games — will have to face Jon Lester (12-7, 3.44 ERA), who is 9-2 with a 2.25 ERA over his last 18 starts.
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