BOSTON (AP) – Kason Gabbard is giving the Red Sox a surprising lift just when they need it.
A 29th-round draft pick by Boston back in 2000, the rookie left-hander pitched superbly for the second time in a week as they hammered the Chicago White Sox for the second straight day, 11-2 on Saturday.
That victory on the day before the first anniversary of his major league debut was another sign of progress.
“I think I’ve come a long way,” Gabbard said, “just trusting myself and, honestly, the game doesn’t change from level to level.”
Last year he was 9-2 at Double-A, 1-7 at Triple-A and 1-3 with Boston. This season, he’s 4-0 with a 2.97 ERA and has allowed three hits in each of his last four starts.
Gabbard, who doesn’t throw very hard, allowed three hits and one walk and struck out one in seven innings. He got 15 of his 21 outs on grounders.
The Red Sox were 3-4 during the week and Gabbard had two of those wins, starting with a complete game, three-hit, 4-0 victory last Monday night over Kansas City.
“To follow it up is very impressive,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Coco Crisp matched his career high with five RBIs one day after his three-run triple put Boston on top to stay in a 10-3 victory. Saturday’s outcome was in doubt until Boston had its biggest inning of the season with seven runs in the seventh.
Crisp singled in two runs before Eric Hinske doubled in the last two. The first three runs of the inning scored on bases-loaded walks.
Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen agreed that the relatively unknown Gabbard was making a name for himself.
“When the guy pitches good, you have to admit it,” Guillen said.
“He pitched better than (Josh) Beckett” and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who started the first two games of the series.
Gabbard was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on June 26 after Curt Schilling went on the disabled list. Another starter, Julian Tavarez, has struggled in the last month.
Schilling pitched very well in a three-inning rehab stint at Pawtucket on Saturday night, striking out six and allowing no walks and two hits. He expects to make two more rehab starts.
Gabbard allowed two hits in the second when Chicago scored on doubles by Paul Konerko and Josh Fields. Fields singled in the fifth for the only other hit off Gabbard.
“He’s got some movement on his ball,” catcher Jason Varitek said. “To be able to mix up his pitches he can get some mishits. That’s what he did the last two times.”
Crisp went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .370 in his last 29 games and .271 for the season.
“He sparks our team,” Boston’s Dustin Pedroia said. “Defensively, he’s the best center fielder in baseball and offensively he makes things happen.”
Crisp gave Boston a 2-1 lead in the second with a two-run single off another rookie lefty, John Danks (6-7).
He also singled in the second run of the two-run sixth – after J.D. Drew’s RBI double – against Danks, who was 3-0 in his previous four starts.
But the wildest inning was the seventh.
Hinske led off with a single off Ehren Wasserman, then stole second as Julio Lugo struck out. Pedroia also struck out before Manny Ramirez was walked intentionally. Kevin Youkilis also walked, loading the bases and bringing in Boone Logan.
He walked Drew, forcing in a run, and Dewon Day came in. Day then walked Mike Lowell and Varitek, scoring two more runs. Crisp and Hinske followed with their two-run hits.
“When you don’t get hits and the bullpen did what it did the last two nights, you’re going to get what we did the last two nights,” Guillen said. “A loss.”
Notes: David Ortiz missed the game with a left shoulder strain but an MRI showed no structural damage. He was expected to sit out Sunday’s game, but Francona said, “he’s upbeat and so are we.” Ortiz was listed as day-to-day. … Lugo extended his hitting streak to 11 games by going 1-for-4. He is 20-for-42 in that stretch. … Jerry Owens extended his streak to 12 games with a single in the eighth off Boston’s Javier Lopez. … The seven runs were the most allowed by the White Sox in one inning this season. … Crisp had the third five-RBI game of his career. His last came on July 5 against Tampa Bay. … Gabbard is unbeaten in his last eight starts, two of them last year, and has won all five of his starts at Fenway Park.