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For one night at least, it was all there for Rick Porcello. He kept his fastball down, and stepped up in every big spot.
It was one happy return to the majors.
Porcello pitched seven sharp innings in his first start since he was sidelined by a triceps injury, leading the Boston Red Sox to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
"I had been looking forward to it for a while now, getting back on the mound and getting on track," Porcello said.
Porcello and Chris Sale had nearly identical lines, but Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer off Nate Jones (1-1) with two outs in the eighth. Robbie Ross Jr. then got three outs for the Red Sox before Junichi Tazawa finished the six-hitter for his third save in nine chances.
Porcello (6-11) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked none in one of his best starts in a disappointing debut season with Boston. The right-hander was acquired in a December trade with Detroit, and then agreed to an $82.5 million, four-year contract in April.
It was Porcello's first win in six weeks. He had been shelved by a right triceps strain since he was tagged for five earned runs and 10 hits in two-plus innings in a loss to the White Sox on July 29.
"It just was all working for him, and we're really happy for him," interim manager Torey Lovullo said.
Sale also pitched seven innings of five-hit ball. The lanky left-hander struck out seven, running his major league-leading total to a career-best 229 in just 171 1-3 innings.
"I mean it's cool. But at the end of the day, there's really only one stat that matters and that's wins," Sale said. "We just have to keep fighting. It's nothing in particular. We just have to keep fighting and keep our heads up."
The Red Sox played without sluggers David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval, who each got a day off. But Josh Rutledge contributed two hits, a ninth-inning sacrifice fly and an outstanding play at second base.
Porcello retired his first 10 batters before Melky Cabrera doubled with two outs in the fourth. The White Sox had runners on the corners with one out in the fifth, but Porcello wiggled out of the jam with some help from Rutledge.
After Tyler Flowers flied to shallow right for the second out, rookie Tyler Saladino hit a slow bouncer to second. Rutledge rushed in and made a terrific diving throw that just beat the athletic Saladino to first.
"Rut came out of nowhere and made a heck of a play on that ball," Porcello said.
The White Sox threatened again in the sixth, putting two runners on with one out. Porcello then struck out Avisail Garcia and got Adam LaRoche to fly out to center.
The Red Sox had their best scoring opportunity against Sale in the third, loading the bases with two outs. But Sale fanned Hanley Ramirez for his 226th strikeout, matching his previous single-season high set in 2013.
"I thought they did a great job of attacking early," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I wouldn't say he was throwing strikes early in the count. He was getting behind. That got him in some jams. But he's got good enough stuff to get out of it."
The Red Sox took two of three in the series to improve to 8-5 since Lovullo took over as interim manager after John Farrell announced on Aug. 14 that he had lymphoma and would miss the rest of the season.
"There's a lot that's behind these guys over the past 10 days. A lot has happened," Lovullo said. "But they're professional, and everybody knows this is what they have to do."
RHP Clay Buchholz (right elbow strain) will be re-evaluated next week. "We're still gathering some information and at that point we'll figure out where we're at," Lovullo said. Buchholz's last major league game was July 10, and he is running out of time for a return this year.
Following an off day, Boston begins a three-game series against the New York Mets on Friday night. LHP Henry Owens (2-1, 4.50 ERA) gets the ball in the opener against Mets RHP Matt Harvey (11-7, 2.57 ERA).
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