Clay Buchholz, Bill Hall Lead Red Sox to Third Straight Win

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Clay Buchholz, Bill Hall Lead Red Sox to Third Straight Win Postgame, Red Sox 10-1: It was almost a foreign feeling with the Red Sox relaxing in the late innings. They have had to scratch and claw in almost every game for a month straight. Terry Francona said himself how nice it was to be able to sit back and relax for a change.

"We have a quick turnaround. We were able to get a few guys out tonight, which will help because we can play them tomorrow. We needed a game where we can, not take a deep breath, but just spread out a little bit."

That's what you get when you mix nine early runs with a dominant Clay Buchholz.

It's a recipe the Red Sox hope to see again in just a few hours. John Lackey opposes Brad Mills in Thursday's series finale. First pitch is 12:37 p.m.

Final, Red Sox 10-1: There haven't been many games like this lately. In fact, the Red Sox had not won a game by more than four runs in over a month. Nice to give a few players some innings off and to not have to bite any nails for once.

Behind four home runs — two by Bill Hall — and another great start by Clay Buchholz, Boston wins for the 11th time in 16 games and keeps the heat on the Rays and Yankees, who suddenly look very catchable.

We will get you a closer look at Bill Hall's performance in a separate piece on the site. Back in a bit to wrap up the live blog.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 10-1: Bill Hall fails to get a third home run and will have to "settle" for two and an RBI single. Three outs and the Red Sox are officially 3 1/2 games out in the wild card race.

The Yankees are losing 6-2 in Texas so the deficit in the division may be just four games (five in the loss column) by the end of the night.

End 8th, Red Sox 10-1: Clay Buchholz's 109th and final pitch results in a defensive gem by shortstop Marco Scutaro, who made a diving stop to his left before flipping to Bill Hall for the last out.

Dustin Richardson was up and warming in the Boston bullpen and will pitch the ninth.

Buchholz has gone eight innings or more five times this season. He has not allowed an earned run in the Rogers Centre in a span of 16 innings.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 10-1: The Red Sox had not scored in double figures in over a month, spanning 28 games, before Victor Martinez drove in their 10th run of the night on a single in the eighth. Coincidentally, the last double-digit effort came in a 14-3 rout in the Rogers Centre on July 9.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is on to catch the eighth, making his Red Sox debut.

End 7th, Red Sox 9-1: Toronto somehow manages to get two hits off Clay Buchholz, but he's through seven having thrown only 88 pitches.

Buchholz has just one complete game but has flirted with the feat a few other times. He's in great shape in this one, although with an eight-run lead it might be nice to see someone else mop things up.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 9-1: Well, they got Bill Hall out. So there's that. Hall strikes out with runners on the corners, helping Casey Janssen work out of trouble in the seventh.

Eric Patterson ran for Adrian Beltre in the seventh. Terry Francona is slowly emptying the bench.

Patterson has gone to center field to get Jacoby Ellsbury out of the game while Jed Lowrie replaces Beltre at third.

End 6th, Red Sox 9-1: Ho hum. Clay Buchholz works around his first walk of the game to record his 13th straight inning in the Rogers Centre without allowing an earned run.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 9-1: Order has been restored a bit as Brian Tallet sets the Red Sox down in order in the sixth. The Blue Jays got 'em right where they want 'em now.

In all seriousness, this may be the crushing blow for the Blue Jays, who really could've positioned themselves for a wild card run with a win in this series. Instead, they figure to be nine behind Tampa Bay in the loss column with just 49 games to play.

Darnell McDonald has taken over for J.D. Drew in right field.

End 5th, Red Sox 9-1: And then there's Clay Buchholz. Nearly lost amid the Red Sox' home run barrage is the fact that the Blue Jays have barely touched Buchholz.

The righty has given up only three singles, one of the infield variety, and an unearned run. He has yet to walk a batter and has thrown only 60 pitches, in great shape to spare the bullpen in this one.

Buchholz's ERA in five-plus starts in Toronto is now 1.83.

By the way, the Yankees are losing to Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers. It's looking as if the Red Sox will be within 3 1/2 games of the wild card lead and just four of first-place New York.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 9-1: Bill Hall's big night gets bigger with an RBI single to cap a five-run fifth. He has four RBIs, which ties a season high and is two shy of his career high. Who needs Pedroia?

8:32 p.m.: We thought we might have a nice pitching matchup to take in Wednesday night, but the Red Sox just pummeled Shaun Marcum. Adrian Beltre's three-run homer into the Boston bullpen is the fourth home run in four-plus innings off Marcum, who is mercifully lifted with no outs in the fifth.

J.D. Drew led off the inning with his second homer in as many nights.

End 4th, Red Sox 4-1: More high-fives for Bill Hall after he finishes the fourth inning with a double play. If Hall keeps playing like this it will give Terry Francona some interesting decisions to make in a week when Dustin Pedroia returns.

No, I'm not saying that Hall should play over Pedroia. But keeping one of the more powerful bats in the lineup may be necessary for a team that has not been scoring as much of late. Perhaps Hall and Ryan Kalish will platoon in left, and the veteran will spell others in the meantime.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 4-1: The Bill Hall show continues. He smacks his second home run in three innings, a two-run shot that opens things up a bit. Hall becomes the fourth Red Sox player to reach the 15-homer mark and is now batting .360 (9-for-25) with three dingers against Toronto this season.

On the other end of the spectrum is Marco Scutaro, now hitless in 18 straight at-bats.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: The Blue Jays have only an infield single through three innings. If not for Mike Lowell's error on the first Toronto batter of the game nobody would've even reached second base to this point. Clay Buchholz looks tremendous.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Shaun Marcum's pitch count is up to 61 even after a 1-2-3 third. Clay Buchholz is at just 23 as he enters the bottom of the third.

The Red Sox figure to win the race to the bullpen, which has rewarded them against the Jays. They got to Shawn Camp for the go-ahead runs in the eighth in the series opener and picked up the winning run the moment Marcum left that memorable April 27 matchup with Clay Buchholz at the Rogers Centre.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: Adam Lind leads the second off with an infield single but a double play helps Clay Buchholz get through the inning without any issues. That is now nine straight innings in the Rogers Centre without an earned run for Buchholz.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: Trivia time. Who are the top three Red Sox players in home runs per at-bats? Answer after the break.

1) Jason Varitek: one home run every 13.6 at-bats

2) David Ortiz: 14.7

3) Bill Hall: 16.5

Hall hits his 14th home run in 231 at-bats to give the Sox the lead. It was a drive to left on a 3-2 fastball from Shaun Marcum. Solid power contributions from a guy who has done a little of everything for Boston this year.

End 1st, 1-1: Kevin Youkilis committed three errors all year at first base before being lost for the season. Mike Lowell and Victor Martinez have had one apiece in the last week alone. Lowell's miscue in the first helps the Blue Jays get on the board.

While Youkilis's absence impacts the offense in a big way, the Red Sox are just not the same defensive team without him on the field.

Martinez also helped the Jays in the first with a passed ball after he and Clay Buchholz got crossed up on a pitch. It allowed Travis Snider, who led off by getting on with the Lowell error, move to third. He came in on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista. The run is unearned.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: The last time Shaun Marcum faced the Red Sox in Toronto, Mike Lowell pushed in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk. It is deja vu all over again as Lowell does the same to get Boston on the board without a hit. Marcum walked three and hit a batter in a 36-pitch inning.

Ball four to Lowell was a very good pitch and it appeared as if Marcum was out of the inning. Still, he has to feel good about allowing only one run.

One has to wonder if some of his physical ailments (neck, elbow) and the constant grind is getting to Marco Scutaro a bit. Following a pop to short to begin the game he is now hitless in 16 consecutive at-bats and 3-for-35 (.086) in his last eight-plus games.

Not to be outdone, Victor Martinez drops to .200 (8-for-40) in August with a fly to right.

6:27 p.m.: With Clay Buchholz and Shaun Marcum set to square off it is worth revisiting all that occurred in their prior meeting April 27. It was quite a night in the Rogers Centre.

If you recall, the Red Sox and Blue Jays combined for 25 runs on 34 hits the night before. Both bullpens were spent. Boston recalled Fabio Castro for the Buchholz game just in case, and then brought up Alan Embree afterward.

It was also the night that David Ortiz was called back to the dugout to allow Mike Lowell to pinch hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth inning.

Lowell drew a walk to force in the decisive run in a 2-1 victory but the drama surrounding Ortiz lasted another week or so. He was batting just .154 at the time, more than 100 points lower than Lowell.

Through it all, Buchholz and Marcum were dominant.

The Sox' righty allowed a run just two outs into the game when Vernon Wells had an RBI double. Marcum let Boston answer right back when Jeremy Hermida drove in a run with a single in the second.

Neither team had much of a threat thereafter, or at least until Marcum was removed in the eighth and Boston loaded the bases on two singles and a walk.

Buchholz survived a single and an error in the bottom of the eighth before giving way to Ramon Ramirez, who was the default closer since Jonathan Papelbon had pitched three times in the previous four games.

In a clutch performance, Buchholz threw a career-high 117 pitches on a night the Red Sox really needed it.

"He understood where we were," Terry Francona said.

5:43 p.m.: Jarrod Saltalamacchia is with the team in Toronto and will likely catch Thursday afternoon, according to manager Terry Francona. Earlier we took a quick look at the immediate impact Saltalamacchia could have on the team.

As for the man he replaces, Kevin Cash, he reportedly hurt his left hamstring during the Yankees series. Francona called the move precautionary.

In vastly more important injury news (sorry, Kevin), Francona confirmed Tuesday's news that Dustin Pedroia will fly home Thursday, get examined in Boston on Friday and then play second base for Pawtucket on Saturday. Pedroia will then DH on Sunday and, as expected, will rejoin the team Tuesday for the opener of a big nine-game homestand.

This is all provided that Pedroia checks out OK on Friday.

Also in PawSox-related news, Carlos Delgado is expected to DH on Wednesday night. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his debut Monday.

As Francona promised when he gave Jed Lowrie two consecutive days off in New York, he plans on playing Lowrie in Thursday's series finale. With the 12:37 p.m. start in that one it would be a quick turnaround for Lowrie, who still needs time to recover after each outing. That's why Bill Hall is at second and Ryan Kalish is back in the lineup in left.

More to come in a bit.

4:37 p.m.: Well, we know that Tampa Bay has already lost. The Red Sox can move within 3 1/2 games of the wild card lead with a win later on Wednesday. Here is the lineup they will use to try to get them there:

Red Sox

Marco Scutaro, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mike Lowell, 1B
Ryan Kalish , LF
Bill Hall, 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

Toronto, which is currently eight back of Tampa Bay in the loss column, sends the following crew out in an effort to remain relevant:

Blue Jays
 
Travis Snider, LF
Yunel Escobar, SS
Jose Bautista, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Adam Lind, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
J.P. Arencibia, C

Pregame news and notes to come in a bit.

8 a.m.: On April 27, the Red Sox and Blue Jays met in Toronto on a night when both teams needed everything their starters could provide. The teams had combined for 25 runs on 34 hits the night before, when both starters went just three innings and the bullpens were exhausted.

Clay Buchholz and Shaun Marcum responded by locking into a fantastic duel. Buchholz eventually came out on top, allowing a run in eight innings of a 2-1 victory. Marcum yielded only one run in seven innings.

The two right-handers meet again in the same venue Wednesday night as the Sox and Jays meet in the second of three straight at the Rogers Centre.

Boston opened the series with a 7-5 win. Mike Lowell snapped a tie with an eighth-inning solo shot and the bullpen provided some quality relief as the Sox won for the 10th time in 15 games and gained another game on first-place New York.

First pitch for the Buchholz-Marcum rematch is 7:07 p.m.

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