CHICAGO – Clay Buchholz pitched five-hit ball over seven innings Wednesday night to improve to 7-0, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2 to avoid a three-game sweep.
David Ortiz delivered a two-run single in the first off Hector Santiago (1-3), and the Red Sox backed Buchholz with several sharp defensive plays on the way to their sixth win in eight games.
Jonny Gomes made a sliding catch on Paul Konerko’s line drive to left with two on to end the first. Jacoby Ellsbury raced to the center-field warning track to snag Alexei Ramirez’s liner with a runner on and two outs in the fifth to preserve a 2-1 lead.
Boston added to it in the eighth when Will Middlebrooks hit a sacrifice fly to right off Nate Jones after the Red Sox loaded the bases against Brian Omogrosso in the eighth, and Mike Napoli scored on a passed ball by Tyler Flowers to make it 4-1. The Red Sox scored two more in the ninth to put it away.
Buchholz allowed just one run while lowering his American League-leading ERA to 1.73. He also matched the best start by a Boston pitcher since Josh Beckett in 2007, and joined Matt Moore of Tampa Bay and Patrick Corbin of Arizona as the only unbeaten pitchers in the majors with seven or more wins.
The only run he allowed came on an RBI groundout in the third by Alex Rios, who also extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 with a single in the sixth.
The White Sox also got a solo homer from Paul Konerko off Andrew Bailey. Otherwise the White Sox couldn’t get the big hit. They were 0 of 5 with runners in scoring position after doing all their scoring with two outs while winning the previous two games 6-4 and 3-1.
Santiago wasn’t quite as dominant after Jose Quintana took a no-hitter into the seventh the previous night, but he gave the White Sox exactly what they needed.
He settled down after the shaky start and threw six solid innings for the White Sox with Chris Sale scratched because of mild tendinitis in his left shoulder. Santiago allowed two runs and three hits, struck out nine and walked four pitching on three days’ rest in what might be his last start for a while.
That’s because he or Dylan Axelrod could be headed to the bullpen with John Danks expected to return from his shoulder injury.
NOTES: The Red Sox held outfielder Shane Victorino out of the lineup for the second straight game because of tightness in his left hamstring. Manager John Farrell said there has been improvement and is hopeful Victorino won’t have to go on the disabled list. Chicago Manager Robin Ventura said Sale wanted to start but the White Sox decided to take a more cautious approach.