Doubront dominates as Red Sox roll past Giants

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Boston Red Sox pitcher Felix Doubront enjoys interleague matchups, and it has nothing to do with the hitting.

Heck, he's never gotten a hit in the major leagues.

Rather, it's seeing the opposing team's pitcher in the batter's box that gives the young left-hander confidence.

Doubront ran his career record in interleague games to 5-1 Wednesday afternoon after defensive lapses by the San Francisco defense helped the Boston Red Sox score four runs in the third and fourth innings. Will Middlebrooks added to Barry Zito's demise with a two-run home run in a 12-1 shellacking of the Giants.

Jacoby Ellsbury raised his interleague average this season to .438 with three hits as the Red Sox sandwiched Tuesday's late-game collapse with a pair of wins that improved their record against National League teams this year to 11-4.

Coming off two lackluster performances, Doubront (9-6) benefitted as much from seeing an unfamiliar NL opponent as his own team's 12-hit attack.

"It's different. You've got the pitcher (batting)," he said after his second consecutive dominating effort against an NL West foe. He pitched seven shutout innings Aug. 4 in a 4-0 win over Arizona.

"You make good pitches, you get him (the opposing pitcher) out," he continued. "That gives you confidence."

Doubront didn't pitch with the confidence -- or lack thereof -- of a guy who'd allowed 10 runs in his previous two outings, both against American League squads. Seeing a team that went hitless with runners in scoring position (0-for-15) in the three-game series helped.

"Today, I was throwing the ball down," he said of a three-strikeout, one-walk performance. "I like it when they're swinging."

In lowering his career ERA in interleague games to 3.89, Doubront worked eight innings of five-hit ball. He surrendered the Giants' only run in the second inning on a solo homer by Joaquin Arias.

Counterpart Zito, meanwhile, couldn't finish the fourth, leaving after allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks. The damage wasn't entirely his fault, however.

Aside from Middlebrooks' homer that opened the scoring in the second inning, the Boston runs off Zito were greatly aided by the Giants' defense.

Brandon Belt couldn't find first base after taking a throw from Zito on a Shane Victorino bunt, giving the Red Sox an extra out in a three-run third. The big hit of the inning was a two-run blooper Jonny Gomes dumped into left field.

Boston made it 6-0 in the fourth when a pop fly to shallow right field hit by Victorino, the last batter Zito faced, was allowed to fall among three onlooking Giants defenders. Middlebrooks, who had walked, scored on the play.

"It's not working out for us," a frustrated Belt admitted afterward. "We've got to make sure we put an end to this before it starts to unravel on us."

The loss was the Giants' 70th of the season. They suffered only 68 defeats all of last year en route to their second World Series championship in three seasons.

"There were times I do think we drifted mentally, and that shouldn't happen," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of a game in which his team was charged with two errors. "We were fortunate to come away with a win in this series."

The Red Sox, who began the day just a few percentage points behind Tampa Bay at the top of the AL East standings, broke the game open with a five-run seventh inning off Giants reliever Mike Kickham. Stephen Drew delivered the crowning blow, a three-run home run, his 10th of the season.

Victorino was generously credited with three hits, Dustin Pedroia added a pair of doubles and Jarrod Saltalamacchia extended his hitting streak to nine games with a two-run single as the Red Sox won for the 23rd time in 35 day games this season.

The Red Sox out-hit the Giants 12-5.

"Series wins are good, particularly on the road," assessed Red Sox manager John Farrell. "This is a challenging three-week stretch with who we are playing. It's nice to turn the tide against a hot and talented team."

The Giants never advanced a runner past first base against Doubront other than when Arias touched them all on his first homer of the season.

NOTES: The Red Sox have gone 4-0-1 in their interleague series this season. ... Ellsbury's first hit, a double on the game's third pitch, continued his streak of having hit safely in all 15 of Boston's interleague matchups this season. ... Red Sox 1B David Ortiz left the game in the fifth inning because of lower-back spasms. ... The Giants got good news on two injury fronts. An MRI on 3B Pablo Sandoval's sore lower back revealed no structural damage. He sat out his second consecutive game nonetheless. X-rays on C Hector Sanchez's left forearm were negative and he caught the final two innings Wednesday. He was hit in the arm by a LHP Franklin Morales fastball in the Giants' ninth-inning rally Tuesday night. ... Arias' home run was the first at AT&T Park by a Giant other than C Buster Posey or 1B Brandon Belt since June 23. ... The homer off Zito was the 16th he's allowed this season. The Giants now have three pitchers among the top 20 in the NL in home runs allowed, including RHP Matt Cain (sixth with 19) and RHP Tim Lincecum (tied for 17th with 16).