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Daisuke Matsuzaka avoided the one bad inning that plagued him in his last two starts and pitched one of the best games of his career.
Matsuzaka allowed three hits and no walks while striking out nine and the Boston Red Sox capitalized on more wildness by Toronto Blue Jays pitchers for a 6-1 win Tuesday night.
In his first start this season, he allowed six runs in his last inning. In his second, he gave up four runs in his first inning.
"After that tough beginning to the game last time, I tried to keep things simple and I thought that things improved," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I just wanted to keep that going, so from my first pitch tonight I treated it as a continuation of the last game."
Matsuzaka (2-1) put just three runners on base, the second-lowest total in his 76 career games. The outing was the longest in which he allowed three runners or less.
"He held it together from (inning) one to seven," manager Terry Francona said. "All but those two innings have been pretty good."
Boston won its third straight game and went two games over .500 for the first time this year.
In Matsuzaka's debut on May 1 after starting the year on the disabled list with a strained neck, he gave up one run and one hit in the first four innings and then allowed six runs in the fifth and took the loss. Last Thursday in an 11-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels, he allowed four runs in the first but just one run and three hits in the next 4 1-3 innings and got the victory.
"He was aggressive and confident in his fastball," Francona said, "and it showed."
The only runners reached on a single and double by John Buck and a double by Fred Lewis. He walked none, while four Toronto pitchers issued eight bases on balls one night after the Red Sox drew seven walks in a 7-6 win.
Dana Eveland (3-2) gave up all of Boston's runs in four-plus innings, when he allowed five hits and four walks and hit a batter.
"I really only gave up two hard-hit balls," he said, "but you mix those in with some walks and a couple of balls that hit the chalk and stuff like that, you're going to get beat and that's what happened."
Boston, which won its third straight, took a 2-0 lead in the first when Marco Scutaro led off with a walk, and took third on Dustin Pedroia's ground-rule double. Scutaro scored on J.D. Drew's groundout to first and Pedroia came in on Kevin Youkilis' sacrifice fly. Jason Varitek's sixth homer made it 3-0 in the second.
The Red Sox took advantage of two botched plays to score a run in the fourth.
Varitek singled when his grounder went through the legs of Jose Bautista as the top half of the broken bat flew at the third baseman. Bill Hall then lofted a high fly to short center field that left fielder Lewis, center fielder Vernon Wells and shortstop Alex Gonzalez let fall between them. Wells picked the ball up with a good chance to throw to second for a forceout on Varitek, but threw wildly. He originally was given an error on the throw before an official scoring change made it a hit.
Darnell McDonald then doubled in Varitek.
"We usually play pretty good defense," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "I don't know if it's the cold weather or whatever, but it's something that's going to happen over the course of 162 ballgames. I just hope it doesn't happen too often."
In the fifth, Boston capitalized on more errant tosses to score twice and make it 6-0. Drew reached on a bunt single and Youkilis walked. Shawn Camp replaced Eveland and walked Mike Lowell, loading the bases. Drew scored on a wild pitch and Varitek was walked intentionally, reloading the bases. Youkilis scored when Hall grounded into a forceout at second.
Toronto finally broke through against Matsuzaka with a run in the sixth. Buck doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Lewis.
Matsuzaka had retired his first seven batters, three on strikeouts. Buck then singled in the third, but Matsuzaka ended the inning by striking out Travis Snider and Lewis.
He followed with two more perfect innings before giving up the run in the sixth. But he finished his outing with a perfect seventh on two infield popups and a ground out.
This program aired on May 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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