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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz settles down and tames Tigers

07.30.12 at 10:09 pm ET
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If you tuned in for the first inning of Clay Buchholz‘s start against the Tigers, you wouldn’t have guessed that he would leave after eight innings with another strong outing next to his name. Buchholz gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Jackson and a double to Quintin Berry before recording an out, but he got himself out of further trouble.

Buchholz got himself into another jam in the third inning when he surrendered a leadoff triple to Omar Infante and a walk to Jackson, but he settled down and escaped the third with just one more run on the scoreboard after getting Delmon Young to ground into a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded. And that was all Buchholz allowed for the rest of his outing in a 7-3 Red Sox win.

He set down the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning before getting touched for a third run in the seventh thanks in part to a passed ball on a strikeout. Buchholz gave up just two earned runs over eight innings on five hits and two walks, while striking out four. In his last three starts he has allowed just five runs — four earned — on 15 hits in 23 innings.

The Sox have now won three straight and hopped back over the .500 mark on the eve of the trade deadline.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– It took the better part of evening for the Sox to get to Tiger starter Max Scherzer, but their sixth inning was worth the wait. After allowing two runs in the first inning, Scherzer kept the Sox off the board until Dustin Pedroia‘s Monster shot in the sixth gave them a 4-2 lead. Pedroia has now homered in three of his last five games.

Carl Crawford may be settling into a groove. His first-inning RBI triple was his second extra base hit in three games and he has a hit in each of his last three games. In the sixth, he drew a walk and scored on Pedroia’s home run. Crawford also made a nice running catch.

Kelly Shoppach has exactly two triples in his career and both have come this season. The first happened in May against the Royals in Kansas City. The second came at just the right time after his passed ball in the top of the seventh inning led to a Detroit run. With some insurance needed, Shoppach led off the bottom of the frame with a deep fly ball to the triangle that kicked away from Austin Jackson. Shoppach soon scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury.

– Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia scored four runs and accounted for five RBIs. Ellsbury also stole his second base of the season and first since July 17.

Will Middlebrooks began his night with three strikeouts in three at-bats against Scherzer, but in the eighth he went deep off reliever Phil Coke to put the Sox ahead, 7-3. It was Middlebrooks’ 13th home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to seven games.

Adrian Gonzalez had two hits and is 7-for-13 in his last three games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Buchholz began the seventh inning by striking out Brennan Boesch, but the pitch got away from catcher Shoppach and Shoppach’s throw to first pegged Boesch in the numbers. Two batters later, Alex Avila ripped a double to the right-center field wall, scoring Boesch and making it a 4-3 game.

Ryan Sweeney went 0-for-4 and was the only Sox starter to not get a hit.

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