Red Sox 11, Braves 0
ATLANTA (AP)—Four pitches into the game, the Boston Red Sox provided a glimpse of what was to come.
The Red Sox tied their season high, having also homered five times April 22 against the Yankees. For good measure, Boston also had five doubles in a 15-hit outburst that helped extend its AL East lead to 10 games over New York.
“It’s always good to get out on top,” said Drew, who left the game midway through the second when his right quadriceps tightened up. “I got a ball right in the zone and hit it out of the park. That’s always a good feeling for a leadoff hitter.”
For Atlanta, it was another dismal night at the plate. The Braves were shut out by the Red Sox on a five-hitter for the second night in a row and haven’t scored in 19 innings.
It was the first time since 2003 that Atlanta has been blanked in consecutive games.
“It’s tough playing from behind,” said Willie Harris, who had one of the hits. “A pitcher is more confident with a lead. He can take more chances with his pitches. Tavarez threw a lot of changeups and sliders and whatever else he was throwing. His ball was moving around a lot.”
Making matters worse for the Braves, injury-plagued Chipper Jones left after the fifth with a groin problem.
“It was hurting,” said manager Bobby Cox, who didn’t know if Jones would miss any games.
Tavarez (5-4) could coast with a seven-run cushion, and that’s just what he did in winning his fourth straight. He allowed only three hits and faced the minimum through the first six innings. Harris and Jones reached on singles, but both were erased with double plays.
“This was my best game,” Tavarez said. “Everything went right for me.”
In the seventh, Atlanta finally got someone into scoring position for the first time all night. But shortstop Julio Lugo fielded a grounder in short left and threw back to second base for an inning-ending force.
Tavarez pumped his right fist and hopped toward the dugout, the shutout preserved on his final pitch of the night.
“He takes the ball whenever you give it to him and he really enjoys pitching,” manager Terry Francona said. “The ball has so much life through the zone, because this is probably the most he’s started in a long, long time.”
After opening 1-3, the right-hander has pitched well out of the fifth slot in the rotation. Tavarez is 4-0 with a 3.65 ERA over his last seven starts, an encouraging sign for a team that might need him to take on a bigger role while Curt Schilling is on the disabled list.
Schilling returned to Boston for an MRI exam after two straight poor starts. While the exam showed no major problems, he received a cortisone shot for suspected tendinitis and will go on the 15-day DL when the Red Sox get to San Diego for a series this weekend.
In the meantime, the Red Sox are gaining more and more confidence in Tavarez.
“I know our team: When he goes out there, we feel like we have a chance to win,” Francona said. “That’s a good feeling.”
Atlanta’s Buddy Carlyle (1-2) had pitched decently in three straight outings, but the journeyman was no match for Boston’s powerful lineup— especially when his pitches kept drifting up in the strike zone.
“When you throw pitches like I did, especially to a team like Boston, they’re definitely going to hit them,” Carlyle said. “No excuse for it. I’ve got to get the ball down better.”
Carlyle lasted just 3 2-3 innings, giving up seven runs and nine hits with three walks. There was nothing fluky about his dismal line; in addition to serving up three homers, he also allowed four doubles.
Crisp delivered the biggest blow with two outs in the first, driving one into the right-field seats just two nights after the first two-homer game of his career. He came into Atlanta with only one homer on the season.
Boston scored all but two of its runs with the long ball. Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia drove in the others with RBI doubles.
Drew left the game as a precaution with the Red Sox leading 7-0. He has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. … Braves CF Andruw Jones, mired in an 0-for-18 slump that dropped his average to .202, took the night off. Harris moved over from left field and made a Jones-like catch in the eighth, diving to take away a hit from Lugo. … Braves RHP Joey Devine pitched an inning after being recalled from Double-A Mississippi before the game. … Drew’s leadoff homer was the second of his career.