BOSTON (AP) — Brian Matusz struggled with his control through the first two innings. After surrendering a leadoff hit in the third, he was done.
Matusz threw 67 pitches in two-plus innings, allowing quick five runs, and the Baltimore Orioles went on to a 7-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
“I don’t feel like there was any dramatic problems today in my mechanics,” Matusz said. “It’s just a matter of being
inconsistent and not finding a good rhythm.”
Matusz (5-6) walked five and allowed four hits, falling to 3-2 with a 4.31 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox. It was his shortest outing since Sept. 19, also at Fenway Park.
“I couldn’t find my rhythm,” he said. “I just didn’t have good command of anything.”
Boston starter Clay Buchholz had no such problems, pitching a four-hitter for his third career shutout — all against Baltimore.
The 27-year-old Buchholz (6-2) struck out six and walked one while throwing 125 pitches. It was his first complete game since a five-hitter in an 11-0 win at Baltimore on June 4, 2010, and No. 4 overall.
His only other shutout was a 10-0 victory in a no-hitter on Sept. 1, 2007, in his second big league start and appearance.
Baltimore went without a hit between Ryan Flaherty’s single leading off the third and Wilson Betemit’s single starting the
eighth. Fans gave Buchholz got a standing ovation before Chris Davis’ game-ending flyout.
“He did a good job keeping us off balance and throwing strikes. It seemed like every hitter, he was ahead,” Davis said. “We did a good job of working the counts. He was just good. He wasn’t giving in. He was putting us away with all three of his pitches.”
Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and two RBIs as Boston stopped a three-game losing streak. The Orioles had been 5-0 at Fenway Park this year.
Daniel Nava had two hits, walked twice and drove in two for the Red Sox (29-28), who avoided falling below .500 for the first time since they were 23-24 following a loss to Tampa Bay on May 27. Boston scored a pair of runs in each of the first three innings and avoided what would have been Baltimore’s second sweep at Fenway Park this year.
Matusz walked Dustin Pedroia with one out in the first, Kevin Youkilis singled and Will Middlebrooks loaded the bases with a two-out walk. Gonzalez doubled down the first-base line for a 2-0 lead.
Boston loaded the bases with no outs in the second on two walks around Kelly Shoppach’s single. Pedroia grounded to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who tossed the ball to Robert Andino for the forceout. But Andino’s throw to first was off and Shoppach scored on the error.
Gonzalez chased Matusz with a leadoff single in the third, Darnell McDonald doubled with one out against Miguel Gonzalez and Nava hit a two-run single with two down.
And from there, Buchholz did the rest.
“We just couldn’t string much together with him,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He commanded all of his pitches. It kind of takes some wind out of your sails there in the first couple of innings when you’re out on the field that long.”
NOTES: The Red Sox stay at home for the weekend with three interleague games against the Washington Nationals, facing ace Stephen Strasburg (6-1) on Friday night. … The Nationals are 0-3 at Fenway Park and the Expos/Nationals franchise is 0-9. … After nine straight road games, Baltimore returns home this weekend with three games against the slumping Philadelphia Phillies, who have lost six straight. … The Orioles had lost their previous four series.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)