BOSTON - Looking to salvage the finale of their three-game series against the Orioles at Fenway Park, the Red Sox jumped on Baltimore left-hander Brian Matusz for five runs over the first three innings on Thursday.
The early outburst powered the Sox to a 7-0 win over the Orioles, who lost for the first time in six games at Fenway this season.
The loss snapped a franchise record of seven straight wins for the Orioles at Fenway Park going back to Sept. 20, 2011. The seven straight home losses to Baltimore were also a team record for Boston. (The Sox lost 10 straight in 1906 to the St. Louis Browns, who in 1954 became the Baltimore Orioles.)
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, who entered the game with a major league-best 8.11 runs of support per nine innings, was the beneficiary of the Sox offense. He pitched a complete game, giving up four hits with one walk and six strikeouts, improving his record to 6-2.
"Spectacular," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of Buchholz's performance. "Clay came out, had all his pitches right from the get-go. I thought his changeup, and his arm speed with the changeup, was spectacular. He even threw some splits tonight. His curveball was very active. When you have control of the fastball, throwing 93, 94, changeup, split and curveball, you got a good chance of winning. He shut them out.
"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 curve ball that he has. He's able to throw a complete game."
Buchholz has had two other complete games in his career, both against Baltimore. On. Sept 1, 2007, he threw the only no-hitter of his career, at Fenway, and on June 4, 2010, he shut them out at Camden Yards.
In Buchholz's last six starts he has an ERA of 3.10, lowering his overall ERA from 9.09 to 5.77.
"Confidence and being able to throw some pitches in different counts that I wasn't able to do early in the season," Buchholz said of what has made the difference. "Changeup's a big pitch. Been able to throw that to get back in the count or ahead in the count. And getting some great defense behind never hurts too. So there's a lot of things factoring into it."
"We just couldn't string much together with him," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "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."
The Sox sent seven batters to the plate in each of the first two innings.
With one out in the first, Dustin Pedroia walked and Kevin Youkilis singled before David Ortiz popped out, called out on the infield fly rule. Will Middlebrooks then walked, loading the bases for Adrian Gonzalez, who doubled, scoring Pedroia and Youkilis, before Mike Aviles flied out to end the inning.
In the second, the first three Boston batters reached as Darnell McDonald led off with a walk, Kelly Shoppach singled to center and Daniel Nava walked. Pedroia grounded into a fielder's choice, taking second on a throwing error by Orioles' second baseman Robert Andino, as McDonald and Shoppach scored.
Gonzalez led off the third with a single to center, ending Matusz's outing as Miguel Gonzalez entered in relief. Gonzalez struck out Aviles, but gave up a double to McDonald before striking out Shoppach. Nava doubled to right, scoring Gonzalez and McDonald.
Matusz went just two innings (plus one batter in the third), giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits , tying a career high with five walks, as his ERA rose from 4.41 to 4.82.
"I couldn't find my rhythm," said Matusz, whose record fell to 5-6. "Couldn't find a groove and obviously walks were a problem. I just didn't have good command of anything."
The outing ended a streak of four straight quality starts for Matusz. It was his shortest outing since going 1 2/3 innings at Boston on Sept. 19, 2011. In his last two outings at Fenway, Matusz has an ERA of 28.13.
"He never really seemed to get in a consistent delivery," Showalter said. "But you always hope that with a guy like him, a couple of batters and he'd fall in step. But he just didn't seem to get it together."
Miguel Gonzalez went four innings, tying the longest relief outing of the season for the O's, giving up a run on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Kevin Gregg pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing one hit.
The Sox added a run in the eighth on doubles by Nava and Youkilis off Darren O'Day, the O's fourth reliever of the game.
With the win the Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and moved a game over .500.
NOTES: Left fielder Carl Crawford will begin a throwing program Friday. He has been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season after surgery on his left (throwing) wrist in mid-January and a left elbow ailment...Outfielder Ryan Kalish, on the DL since the beginning of the season after off-season surgeries on his neck and shoulder, is continuing his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. On Wednesday, he went 2-for-3, with his second home run in as many games. He had Thursday off...MLB made a scoring change to Saturday's game in Toronto. In the second inning, Daniel Nava hit a line drive to center field that was scored a two-run single. That was changed to an error by Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus with no RBI for Nava... Saturday's Orioles starter is uncertain. Gonzalez was one of the options, along with Dana Eveland and Triple-A Norfolk starter Tommy Hunter. But Gonzalez entered in the third inning to relieve Matusz...The Orioles purchased the contract of 31-year-old left-handed reliever Rich Rundles from the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League. He will be assigned to Norfolk. He was originally drafted in the third round in 1999 by the Red Sox when Dan Duquette, now the Orioles general manager, held the same post with the Red Sox...It was the Sox third team shutout of the season, first since May 15 against the Mariners. It is the Sox largest margin of victory in a shutout since Sept. 8, 2009, against the Orioles, when they won 10-0...The Red Sox are 7-0 in his career when Nava bats lead-off...Endy Chavez went 5-for-13 (.385) with two RBIs in the series...Chris Davis' double in the secnd inning was the Orioles only extra-base hit in the last 21 innings, just their second of the series. Matt Wieters' eighth-inning double on June 5 was the last...