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Complete Game-Clay Shuts Out Orioles

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BOSTON, MA - JUNE 7:  Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammates after their 7-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the game at Fenway Park on June 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Clay Buchholz

BOSTON, MA – JUNE 7: Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammates after their 7-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the game at Fenway Park on June 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Clay Buchholz

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BOSTON (AP) _ The Boston Red Sox got off to a fast start
Thursday night, building a six-run cushion for Clay Buchholz.

The right-hander only needed one.

Buchholz pitched a four-hitter for his third career shutout,
leading the Red Sox to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

The 27-year-old Buchholz (6-2) struck out six and walked one,
throwing 125 pitches while shutting out the Orioles once again. All
three of his shutouts have come against Baltimore.

“Clay came out, had all his pitches right from the get-go,”
Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “He’s getting ahead of
hitters and his ball’s moving so much, a lot of hitters are
swinging early in the count because they don’t want to get behind
with that curveball that he has.”

Buchholz was around the plate all night, but the Orioles
couldn’t get anything going offensively. He threw 78 strikes and
didn’t walk a batter until the ninth.

It was a markedly different performance from his two previous
starts this season against Baltimore, which scored five runs on him
both times.

“I don’t know. They sort of gave it to me the last two times
I’ve faced them,” Buchholz said. “You face these guys a lot. All
of our starters do. It’s like a chess match sort of.”

Buchholz, who was limited to just 14 starts last season because
of a stress fracture in his lower back, was two pitches shy of his
career high. It was his first complete game since a five-hitter in
an 11-0 win at Baltimore on June 4, 2010, and No. 4 overall.

His only other shutout was a 10-0 victory in a no-hitter on
Sept. 1, 2007, in his second big league start and appearance.

Baltimore went without a hit between Ryan Flaherty’s single
leading off the third and Wilson Betemit’s single starting the
eighth. Fans gave Buchholz got a standing ovation before Chris
Davis’ game-ending flyout.

“He did a good job keeping us off balance and throwing strikes.
It seemed like every hitter, he was ahead,” Davis said. “We did a
good job of working the counts. He was just good. He wasn’t giving
in. He was putting us away with all three of his pitches.”

Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and two RBIs as Boston stopped a
three-game losing streak. The Orioles had been 5-0 at Fenway Park
this year, but couldn’t recover after allowing two runs in each of
the first three innings.

“That was big for us to get ahead in the game and Buchholz took
care of the rest,” Gonzalez said. “We needed that win _
especially against Baltimore here at home.”

Daniel Nava had two hits, walked twice and drove in two for the
Red Sox (29-28), who avoided falling below .500 for the first time
since they were 23-24 following a loss to Tampa Bay on May 27.

Baltimore’s Brian Matusz (5-6) lasted just six outs in his
shortest outing since Sept. 19, also at Fenway Park. He gave up
five runs, four earned, and four hits. He also issued five walks
while throwing 67 pitches.

Boston avoided what would have been Baltimore’s second sweep at
Fenway Park this year.

Matusz walked Dustin Pedroia with one out in the first, Kevin
Youkilis singled and Will Middlebrooks loaded the bases with a
two-out walk. Gonzalez doubled down the first-base line for a 2-0
lead.

“I couldn’t find my rhythm. Couldn’t find a groove and
obviously walks were a problem,” Matusz said. “I just didn’t have
good command of anything.”

Boston loaded the bases with no outs in the second on two walks
around Kelly Shoppach’s single. Pedroia grounded to shortstop J.J.
Hardy, who tossed the ball to Robert Andino for the forceout. But
Andino’s throw to first was off and Shoppach scored on the error.

Gonzalez chased Matusz with a leadoff single in the third,
Darnell McDonald doubled with one out against Miguel Gonzalez and
Nava hit a two-run single with two down.

And from there, Buchholz did the rest.

“We just couldn’t string much together with him,” Baltimore
manager Buck Showalter said. “He commanded all of his pitches. It
kind of takes some wind out of your sails there in the first couple
of innings when you’re out on the field that long.”

NOTES: The Red Sox stay at home for the weekend with three
interleague games against the Washington Nationals, facing ace
Stephen Strasburg (6-1) on Friday night. … The Nationals are 0-3
at Fenway Park and the Expos/Nationals franchise is 0-9. … After
nine straight road games, Baltimore returns home this weekend with
three games against the slumping Phillies, who have lost six
straight. … The Orioles had lost their previous four series.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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