By HOWARD ULMAN
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ Jair Jurrjens made an impressive return to the
majors by allowing one run on three hits and shut down the
hot-hitting Boston Red Sox, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 4-1 win
on Friday night.
Jurrjens, an All-Star last season when he topped the Braves with
13 wins, worked 7 2-3 innings and left after allowing an RBI double
by Daniel Nava that drove in Will Middlebrooks, who led off the
eighth with a double. Boston’s only other hit was a clean single to
left field by Adrian Gonzalez in the first.
Jurrjens was demoted to the minors on April 23 after going 0-2
with a 9.37 ERA in four starts. He was called up Friday and retired
eight consecutive batters before Middlebrooks’ double that followed
two innings in which he threw a total of 14 pitches. He also
allowed runners on a walk and a hit batsman.
Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 22
Andrelton Simmons drove in two runs for Atlanta and Jason
Heyward had two doubles and a single, improving to 7 for 11 in his
last three games. The Braves won their third straight game after
losing seven of eight.
Boston’s five-game winning streak ended one day after it
completed a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins in which it
scored 28 runs.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 14 minutes by rain.
Roger Clemens sat in the first row above the Green Monster in
left field. He received a subdued mixture of cheers and boos when
shown on the center-field scoreboard after the third inning with
the words “Welcome Back Roger Clemens” on the screen. The former
Red Sox pitcher was acquitted Monday on all six counts that he lied
to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Jurrjens (1-2) began last season with a 5-0 record and 1.66 ERA
in six starts. By the All-Star break, he was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA.
But he struggled in the second half, going 1-3 and making two trips
to the disabled list with a lingering problem in his right knee.
His last appearance of the season came on Aug. 30 and the knee
wasn’t back at full strength when this season began.
Even at Triple-A Gwinnett, he had a 5.27 ERA in nine starts.
However, he shackled the Red Sox, who had won seven of their
previous eight games.
The Braves got at least one hit in each of the seven innings
pitched by Jon Lester (4-5).
They took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Freddie Freeman led off with
a single, took third on a double by Heyward and scored on a
groundout by Matt Diaz. Heyward scored on a double by Simmons.
Atlanta made it 3-0 in the sixth when Heyward doubled, took
third on a fly out to right by Diaz and scored on a sacrifice fly
to right by Simmons. Freeman singled in Michael Bourn with the
final run in the eighth
NOTES: Boston manager Bobby Valentine told struggling 3B Kevin
Youkilis that he can expect less playing time. Rookie 3B
Middlebrooks started his second straight game Friday, the first
time since Youkilis came off the disabled list on May 22 that he
hasn’t started two consecutive games. He is hitting .174 with no
homers in June. Middlebrooks was batting .316 with eight homers and
31 RBIs in 38 games before Friday. … RHP Randall Delgado (4-7)
pitches for Atlanta on Saturday night against Franklin Morales
(0-1). … Atlanta is 7-1 in its last eight road games.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)