BOSTON (AP) — Clay Buchholz knew the situation and provided exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed.
Buchholz combined with four relievers on a three-hitter and the Red Sox bounced back from a pair of lopsided losses with a 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in a game delayed by rain for more than two hours.
Coming back out for the third inning after a delay of 2 hours, 7 minutes, Buchholz stayed in there just long enough to set things up for the bullpen.
“If we don’t go with Buch, somebody else is going to have to pitch too much,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He did a good job.”
When the rain started, Buchholz was told it would be about a 45-minute delay. Then, when it got close to that time, he was informed it would be at least another hour.
The only thing he could do was play catch and throw in the batting cage behind the Red Sox dugout.
“I was down there probably three, four times. Threw 20 pitches each time to stay loose,” he said. “My feeling was I had to go out there. I didn’t want to tax the bullpen any more than it was.”
That was enough motivation after watching his teammates get clobbered the past two games, which followed a 13-inning loss that started Wednesday night and ended early Thursday morning.
“A little game of awareness,” Buchholz said. “Just trying to help out. I knew the guys had a rough couple of days.”
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Red Sox, who lost their previous two games by a combined score of 20-2.
“I guess they have a cage and he was throwing over there,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Their pitching (situation) was different than ours.”
Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 16 games and drove in two runs for the Red Sox, who collected 12 hits. Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis each had RBI singles.
Minnesota, which had its three-game winning streak halted, managed just three singles and had only one runner past first base. The Twins lost for the eighth time in their last nine games in Fenway Park after winning the series opener, 9-2, on Friday night.
Buchholz (3-3) lasted five innings, allowing two singles, walking one and striking out six for his third win in four starts.
“It’s just nice to see the way Buch pitched tonight,” reliever Daniel Bard said. “It was nice to see him getting more swings and misses. I don’t know if he changed anything.”
Rich Hill, Matt Albers and Bard each worked one inning. Jonathan Papelbon then got the final three outs just as the rain started to get heavy again.
The Red Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first against Brian Duensing (2-2) when Ellsbury had a leadoff double, stole third and scored on Lowrie’s two-out single.
After Boston’s pitchers held opponents to five runs or less for 18 consecutive games, its starters were pounded the past two games.
But Buchholz stopped that.
The 26-year-old right-hander, who posted a 17-7 record last season, came back to start the third inning after the delay, and looked just as strong as when play was halted. He fanned three in the first two innings and one each over the next three, getting some help in the field when third baseman Lowrie made a diving stab of Luke Hughes’ liner and fired to first, doubling off Rene Rivera.
“He had all of his pitches. Changeups before the rain and a good breaking ball after,” Gardenhire said.
The Red Sox made it 2-0 in the third against reliever Kevin Slowey, who was just reinstated from the DL prior to the game, on Youkilis’ RBI single off the Green Monster after Adrian Gonzalez doubled.
Duensing pitched two innings, allowing one run and three hits before he was lifted after the lengthy delay.
NOTES: Francona said before the game that he has no plans to move struggling 2B Dustin Pedroia, who was just 6 for his last 53 coming into the game. “I’ve been around him long enough to know that he will get every bit as hot as he got cold,” Francona said. Pedroia singled in four at-bats. … The Twins sent LHP Dusty Hughes to Triple-A Rochester when they reinstated Slowey, who was sidelined with shoulder bursitis and made two rehab starts for Class-A Fort Myers. He went 4 1-3 innings on Saturday, giving up one run and six hits. … Francona said before the game that he hadn’t heard from MLB regarding his ejection in Friday’s loss.