Red Sox 4, Braves 3
BOSTON (AP)—A healthy Wade Miller was thrilled after his first win in 11 months.
Imagine his reaction if he actually felt comfortable on the mound.
Miller (1-0) didn’t have his liveliest fastball, but he compensated.
“That’s what makes you into a better pitcher, knowing you can get outs without your best stuff,” he said.
He missed the last three months of last season with Houston with a frayed rotator cuff and didn’t make his first start for Boston until May 8. He pitched well but didn’t get a decision in his first two starts this year.
“Mechanically, I just wasn’t feeling as good as the last two starts,” he said. But he kept the ball away from the middle of the plate and, with his first victory, “felt great, felt like a part of the team,” Miller said.
He hadn’t won since last June 20 in another interleague game, when he beat the Angels 3-1.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox saw a difference in the way Miller pitched Friday and the last five seasons with Houston, when he went 1-3 with a 6.66 ERA against the Braves. Cox said Miller is throwing more breaking pitches now.
“He looks good,” Cox said. “He looks like an old veteran instead of a young kid throwing real hard.”
Tim Hudson (4-3) also changed leagues in the offseason—going from the American to the National. But he struggled again at Fenway Park just as he did there with Oakland. In five regular-season outings in Boston, he is 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA.
“I was in and out of jams most of the night but felt pretty confident after the second inning,” Hudson said.
By then, the Red Sox had scored all their runs.
They led 1-0 after their first two batters. Johnny Damon tripled and scored on Edgar Renteria’s groundout. They made it 4-0 in the second on Varitek’s ninth homer of the season, a solo shot, and Mueller’s first homer, a two-run liner off the right-field foul pole after a single by Kevin Millar.
Boston threatened again in the fourth and sixth, but Renteria left the bases loaded both times on groundouts.
The Braves, who played in Boston from 1876-1952, scored in the fifth when Johnny Estrada got their first hit, a leadoff single. After Julio Franco flied out, Estrada went to third on Brian Jordan’s double and scored on Raul Mondesi’s groundout.
Keith Foulke allowed two runs in the ninth before getting his 11th save in 13 chances.
The Red Sox needed strong pitching after going 2-4 on their trip to Seattle and Oakland. Their starters were 0-3 with a 9.30 ERA in those games.
And Curt Schilling remains on the disabled list, although team physician Dr. Thomas Gill said Friday he was “very encouraged” by the right-hander’s recovery from a bone bruise on his right ankle. But Gill gave no timetable for Schilling’s return.
Miller struck out five, walked two and provided “a huge lift for our ballclub,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
Miller left after Estrada’s one-out double in the seventh. Mike Timlin retired all five batters he faced and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 15 outings. But in the ninth, Foulke allowed a double to Chipper Jones, a run-scoring triple to Andruw Jones and an RBI single to Estrada. Foulke then got Franco to ground into a game-ending double play that extended Atlanta’s losing streak to four games for the first time since April 2002.
“No pressure,” Andruw Jones said. “We just need to keep playing good baseball and the runs will come.”
They came early for Miller and he made them stand up.
“It feels good to get some extra breathing room,” he said. “A lot of the hard work paid off coming into the season. I couldn’t be happier.”
Varitek has homered on May 20 for five straight seasons. He hit three homers on May 20, 2001, against Kansas City. “I can’t really explain. I had no idea,” Varitek said. “I’m sure I’ll know next year.” … Atlanta’s Marcus Giles was ejected after taking a called third strike to end the eighth inning.