Clay Buchholz led the Red Sox over the Astros Saturday at Fenway Park. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz's complete game leads Red Sox over Astros on Fourth of July

Ryan Hannable
July 04, 2015 - 12:37 pm
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If there was any question as to who the Red Sox' stopper is, Clay Buchholz once again proved he's that guy. Taking to the mound following a Red Sox loss the game prior for the seventh time in his last nine starts, Buchholz once again delivered, leading the Red Sox to a 6-1 win over the Astros on the Fourth of July at Fenway Park. Of those seven games, the Red Sox have now won four of them. Overall, Buchholz was won his last four starts and the Red Sox have won six of his last seven. Saturday, the right-hander tossed a complete game and was completely in control of the Astros hitters, allowing just one run, which came in the ninth. He allowed just six hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out eight while throwing 110 pitches, 80 for strikes. It was the first complete game for a Red Sox pitcher this season. "He's been on a run the last 10 starts where he's been in control," manager John Farrell said. "That was the case again today for the full nine inning of work. A number of pitches with men on base that he was able to execute. He's in such a good place mentally where he's completing his delivery, commanding four pitches for strikes. In control today." The Red Sox gave Buchholz all the offense he would need in the first two innings. Xander Bogaerts drove home Mookie Betts with a sharp, two-strike single to right field in the first inning and then Betts' sacrifice fly to left field in the second inning brought home Shane Victorino, who singled in his first major league at-bat since May 23. They would tack on an unearned run in the fifth inning when Brock Holt reached on an error by catcher Hank Conger and then scored on a double by Bogaerts. The Red Sox chased Houston starter Collin McHugh from the game in the sixth when Betts doubled home Sandy Leon, who singled earlier in the inning. Finally, the Red Sox capped the scoring in the eighth, adding two more runs when Betts laced a double to dead center field scoring Victorino and the Alejandro De Aza, pinch-hitting for Hanley Ramirez, beat out an infield single with the bases loaded on a head first dive into first base. "The one thing that has been extremely encouraging is the way our young players have continued to grow. The way they've continued to perform and produce," Farrell said. "Mookie and Xander, particularly with men in scoring position, they are taking what the opposing pitcher has given them, put good swings on balls, using the whole field. So when you look at the top three guys and the bottom two today -- Vic returning with a couple of base hits and two runs scored, we're getting production in areas other than the middle of the order." With the win, the Red Sox improved to 28-12 when scoring first. Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox' win: WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Buchholz was in control all game long. Between the second and sixth innings he retired 12 straight Astros hitters. -- Victorino in his first game back from the DL went 2-for-4. Dating back to earlier in the year he now has a seven-game hit streak. -- Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a single and a double to extend his hit streak to four games. Over that span he's batting .500 (9-for-18). -- Leon, who entered the game 0 for his last 14, reached base four times, including three singles. It was his second career three-hit game, as he had one back on April 13. WHAT WENT WRONG -- Mike Napoli went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He's now hitless in his last nine at-bats. Overall, he's two for his last 27. -- Ramirez went 0-for-4, which snapped an eight-game hit streak for the left fielder.

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