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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz dominates Marlins in Sox’ 2-1 win

06.12.12 at 10:06 pm ET
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Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach and closer Alfredo Aceves celebrate Tuesday night's 2-1 victory over the Marlins. (AP)

Clay Buchholz was the story on Tuesday, limiting Miami to a run over seven innings to earn his seventh victory of the season and help the Red Sox snap a four-game losing streak in a 2-1 win at Marlins Park.

The Sox (30-32) will look to win the three-game series on Wednesday night with Felix Doubront (6-3, 4.34) opposing Ricky Nolasco (6-4, 436).

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Sox on Tuesday:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

• Buchholz had his third straight terrific outing, allowing one run on five hits in seven innings pitched. After the righty allowed five runs in five innings in a loss against the Orioles on May 6, Buchholz’s ERA for the season was a major league-worst 9.09. It now stands at a season-low 5.38. Buchholz looked to be in trouble early on against the Marlins, as Jose Reyes led off the game with a triple for the second straight night. But Buchholz struck out the next three batters – Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton — to get out of the jam (all strikeouts were swinging). Buchholz finished with a season-high nine strikeouts against one walk. In his last three starts he has allowed three runs in 17 innings pitched. Buchholz gave up a leadoff homer to Logan Morrison in the seventh inning, but he then struck out Gaby Sanchez and retired Chris Coughlin and John Buck to finish his start at 103 pitches.

Vicente Padilla, pitching for the first time in six days, pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Buchholz, striking out Stanton looking (Stanton’s fourth whiff of the game) to end the inning and strand Infante at third base and Ramirez at first. Alfredo Aceves pitched the ninth and picked up his American League-leading 15th save.

• The offense could do nothing against Mark Buehrle in the first six innings but came alive in the seventh, scoring a pair of two-out runs. Kelly Shoppach delivered his second double of the game to score Will Middlebrooks to break the scoreless tie, and Mike Aviles singled in the next at-bat to plate Shoppach (Buck, the Marlins catcher, dropped a foul ball while leaning over the dugout in the Aviles at-bat). The Sox could have doubled their run total in the inning, but Coughlin made a diving catch in center field off a Buchholz liner to strand Aviles at third and Darnell McDonald (single) at second.

Adrian Gonzalez led the National League with 119 walks in 2009 and has walked at least 70 times in each of the last four seasons. But Gonzalez entered Monday with just 16 walks on the season, and none since May 15. That streak ended as Gonzalez drew a leadoff walk against Buehrle, a day after walking on Monday’s loss.

• Aviles contributed with his RBI single in the top of the seventh and also added a key defensive play, a diving stop to turn a 6-4-3 double play on Hanley Ramirez following a leadoff walk to Infante in the bottom of the sixth inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG

• The Red Sox offense — entering Tuesday’s game averaging just 3.1 runs per game over the last eight — continued to look absolutely inept for the first six innings, managing just a single hit against Buehrle. And the Sox again squandered opportunities with runners in scoring position, as Shoppach was stranded after a two-out double in the second inning (Aviles groundout to shortstop) and both Scott Podsednik and Dustin Pedroia failed to plate McDonald from second in the sixth.

• Before the game Tuesday, Kevin Youkilis was quick to rip umpire Ron Kulpa for a pair of called strikes he didn’t agree with on Monday. It’s fair to at least suggest that Youkilis might need steadier recent credentials if he wants to criticize anyone for his performance on the field. After an 0-for-3 effort against Buehrle on Tuesday, Youkilis is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and has only three hits in his last 26 at-bats. For the season Youkilis is batting .220 with an OPS of .651. He did reach base in the eighth inning after being hit by a Steve Cishek pitch. It is the 86th time Youkilis has been hit by a pitch in his career, most in franchise history.

• Gonzalez was hitless in his three at-bats and hasn’t had a hit in his last four games. For the month of June he is batting .227 with one homer and six RBIs in 44 at-bats.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Clay Buchholz,
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