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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clay Buchholz Flirts With Another No-Hitter, Settles For 8 Shutout Innings Vs. Rays

As we all know, Cy Young awards and World Series titles aren't won in April but damn it if Clay Buchholz wouldn't have wrapped up at least the former with the way he has begun 2013. He improved to 3-0 this season with eight shutout innings as Boston (7-4 overall, 3-2 home) blanked Tampa Bay (4-7 overall, 1-4 away) 5-0 at Fenway Park this afternoon.

Buchholz, who has allowed one earned run in 22 innings, had a no-hitter heading into the eighth inning but Kelly Johnson ended his bid for a second (2007 vs. Baltimore) with a single to start the frame. A no-hitter would have been cool except that Buchholz's pitch count was rising too high and it would have been very risky to send him out in the ninth. He finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts, four walks and two hits on 109 pitches.

Dustin Pedroia was the only guy on either team with multiple hits, he went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run and stolen base. Boston scored two runs off Alex Cobb (1-1) in the third on Mike Napoli's two-run double. The Red Sox received a gift later that inning as Stephen Drew hit what could have been a double play to end it but Yunel Escobar's throwing error allowed two more runs to score. Boston tacked on its final run in the eighth via Will Middlebrooks' sacrifice fly.

Andrew Miller closed out Boston's second shutout of the season (13-0 at Toronto last Sunday) with a scoreless ninth inning of relief.

After getting rained out on Friday night, Boston won in 10 innings on Saturday then had today's victory. They can complete the sweep against Tampa Bay tomorrow afternoon (11:05 a.m., NESN) as Ryan Dempster (0-1) faces Jeremy Hellickson (0-1) in the annual Patriot's Day matinee.

UPDATE 4/16: Closer Joel Hanrahan was put on the DL with a hamstring injury while knuckleballer Steven Wright was called up from Pawtucket.

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