BOSTON -- No Clay Buchholz? No problem for the again-surging Boston Red Sox, who are back in first place in the American League East.
Buchholz, 7-0 with a 1.73 ERA, missed Monday night's start with a minor irritation near his collarbone. But Alfredo Aceves worked six solid innings and the Red Sox pelted Philadelphia pitching with 15 hits, seven of them for extra bases, en route to a 9-3 interleague shellacking of the struggling Phillies.
"He took tonight as an opportunity, to make an impression. He made a solid one," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Aceves, who returned from the minors last week and made his first start since a disaster against Oakland April 23. "Right from coming out of the bullpen, the way he attacked the strike zone, when you compare it to the game against Oakland here it's a nice and day difference with the overall approached.
"It was reflected in the tempo and the pace that he set and his willingness to work a little bit quicker; and every pitch had a little bit more intent to it."
It appears, though, that the effort wasn't enough to avoid another Aceves trip to the minors, with Franklin Morales coming off the disabled list Tuesday. Aceves wasn't around to meet the media after the game and his locker was missing his personal effects. Farrell was non-committal in his answers.
The victory, the fourth straight and fifth in the last six games for Boston, moved the Red Sox a game ahead of the Yankees in the division. The Sox fell out of first May 9 after leading from opening day and hadn't been back since.
The Phillies, losers of three of their last four, fell to 24-27 in the opener of a four-game set (two in Boston, two in Philadelphia) between the two teams.
Rookie righty Tyler Cloyd (1-1, with his first road loss in six career starts) gave up first-inning home runs to Dustin Pedroia (No. 3) and Mike Napoli (No. 8) and lasted just 2 1/3 innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury, whose two-run ninth-inning double won Sunday's game against Cleveland, had a single and two doubles in the first three innings Monday (a hit in four straight innings over two games). He also turned a third-inning Michael Young liner into a double play and made a fine running catch of Freddy Galvis' bases-loaded drive with two out in the sixth.
Farrell, asked about Ellsbury, on a 10-for-25 tear, said, "I think the boost of confidence he may have gotten with the walk-off hit yesterday, in combination with the latter part of the road trip, he's been getting on base at a higher rate and played tonight like we've seen ... not just at the plate but defensively, he looked like a different guy tonight."
Aceves (2-1) gave up seven hits, including an Erik Kratz homer (No. 5, two straight games) before giving way to Clayton Mortensen. The Sox turned three double plays behind him, including the liner to center, with Pedroia starting another with a nifty grab.
Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer (his team-high 10th) off Andrew Miller in the eighth inning.
"When you really think about it, a loss is a loss," said Phils manager Charlie Manuel, who has already seen too many of them this year. "We'll come back out tomorrow and it's still nothing, nothing."
Pedroia (18-for-38 in the last 10 games) and Napoli both drove in two runs for Boston, which is a season-high 12 games over .500 for the second time (32-20).
Cloyd entered the game having worked 13 1/3 innings in the majors this year, allowing no home runs. By the time he reached 14 innings, he had surrendered two.
NOTES: The Red Sox are 21-3 when scoring first. Boston is 22-9 in its last 31 games against Philly, 8-2 at Fenway. ... Former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon returned for the first time as a visiting player, the club saluting him with a video tribute that ended with the fans giving him an ovation. He waved to the crowd. Before the game, he said, "It's an absolute thrill to be here at this park again and hopefully get on the mound and pitch. I think this is one of my all-time favorite mounds to pitch off." ... Young is in an 0-for-22 tailspin, dropping to .260. ... Buchholz threw on flat ground Monday and isn't expected to miss a full turn. ... Boston's Ryan Dempster, who has thrown 212 pitches and walked 10 in just 7 2/3 innings over his last two starts, faces a surging Cliff Lee on Tuesday night. Lee is coming off a shutout and has allowed four runs in 31 innings over four starts. ... RHP Daniel Bard, who walked five Double-A hitters May 15, hasn't pitched since, the Boston Globe reporting Bard has been given a "break" to work on things away from the games. ... Morales (lower back) has been out all season and will be the third lefty in the Red Sox bullpen. ... Boston is 117-64 all-time against the National League, the best mark in the majors. ... Both teams wore special uniforms and hats (letter and numbers on the uniforms and the hats in camouflage) in honor of Memorial Day.