March 24, 2013

Boston starters fall to Pittsburgh

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Gearing up for the regular season, the Boston Red Sox put out their regular lineup Saturday in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at JetBlue Park.

Clay Buchholz
click image to enlarge

Clay Buchholz delivered another fine performance in Saturday’s exhibition loss to Pittsburgh, yielding just one run in 5 1⁄3 innings and getting rave reviews for “another very solid outing” from Manager John Farrell.

The Associated Press

Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled and scored, and later singled in a run for Boston.

Clay Buchholz started and pitched 5 1/3 innings, yielding one run (a Garrett Jones homer) and four hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Will Middlebrooks (triple, run) and Jacoby Ellsbury (double, single) also stood out for the Red Sox.

The lineup against left-hander Jeff Locke featured Ellsbury leading off, followed by Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Middlebrooks, Saltalamacchia (at DH), Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Jose Iglesias.

That would appear to be similar to the lineup Red Sox will use in the season opener April 1 against Yankee lefty CC Sabathia. The switch-hitting Saltalamacchia may not be the choice at DH since he is weaker as a right-handed batter (although he was 2-for-3 on Saturday).

RBI singles by Saltalamacchia, Ross and Iglesias gave Boston a 3-1 lead.

Reliever Junichi Tazawa retired five straight but then walked two batters with one out in the eighth. Anthony Carter came in and gave up two hits, including a two-run Pedro Alvarez homer.

Former Sea Dogs reliever Brock Huntzinger pitched a scoreless ninth for Boston, allowing a double and walk, and striking out two.

Manager John Farrell said he plans to use his regulars again for today's 1 p.m. game against the Phillies in Clearwater.

BUCHHOLZ CONTINUED his sizzling spring and now has an 0.96 ERA. He threw 88 pitches (56 strikes).

"A number of quality pitches with runners in scoring position," Farrell said. "He kept the game in check. It didn't speed up on him at all. He used all his pitches. Another very solid outing for Clay."

Buchholz has now allowed two runs (both solo home runs) and 11 hits in five games (182/3 innings), with 16 strikeouts.

"To see the consistency is extremely encouraging," Farrell said.

ELLSBURY HAS NO stolen bases this spring. He tried to take third base in the first inning, but Pedroia grounded out on the play.

Ellsbury stole only 14 bases last year (in just 74 games because of injury). Farrell wants Ellsbury running.

"He wasn't the guy (last year) who stole 70 a couple years ago (2009)," Farrell said. "That's being strongly encouraged this year."

The smart aleck media asked Farrell if he was encouraging Ellsbury to steal 70 bases.

"Not the number," Farrell said, smiling, "but the approach."

AMONG THE INJURED, shortstop Stephen Drew continues in his recovery from a concussion. He took batting practice before the game. Still no timetable when he can play.

David Ortiz remains inside, hitting tossed balls in the cage.

Utility man Pedro Ciriaco sat out one more day with a sore back. He is scheduled to play in a minor league game today.

Outfielder Mitch Maier remains out with a sprained ankle.

Maier is one of three players here on a minor league contract, but with an opt-out clause if not added to the major league team next week. First baseman Lyle Overbay and outfielder Ryan Sweeney are the others.

A FEW PIRATES playing Saturday looked familiar to Boston and Portland fans. Reliever Mark Melancon, traded in the Joel Hanrahan deal, struck out Napoli and Middlebrooks in a 1-2-3 fifth. ... Former Sea Dogs infielder Oscar Tejeda pinch-hit in the fifth and struck out. Tejeda, waived last year by Boston, will start the season in Triple-A. ... Blue Jays first-round pick and New Hampshire Fisher Cats All-Star Travis Snider started in right field. Snider, traded to Pittsburgh last year, was 0-for-3.

RYAN REID, the former Deering High pitcher, is still with the Pirates, but did not make the trip to Fort Myers. Reid, 27, signed with Pittsburgh as a minor league free agent and has allowed no runs and only two hits in six appearances (seven innings).

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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