Daisuke Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox a big shot in the arm last night, pitching seven shutout innings until faltering in the eighth, allowing two runs to end his scoreless string at 24 1/3 innings. Hideki Okajima showed flashes of what he did so consistently in 2007, getting the final two outs (getting away from his tightrope-walker act), and Jonathan Papelbon got his 30th save to give the Red Sox a much-needed 4-2 win.
Tampa Bay's loss to Oakland last night means the Red Sox are now a half-game out of first.
Dice-K picked up his 11th win against just one loss. J.D. Drew hit a home run in the first, and the Sox added three in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Drew, Mike Lowell's RBI double and Jed Lowrie added another sac fly to complete the scoring.
Daisuke was a lot more economical in his pitch count through seven, as tossed just 90 through that inning. Papelbon's 30th save means that he became the first Red Sox pitcher to get 30 saves in three straight seasons. It was also the 102nd save of his brilliant young career.
David Ortiz went 0-for-4 and reached on an error in his next-to-last game of his minor league rehab assignment in Portland last night. So far in five games, Big Papi is 5-for-16 (.313) with 5 runs, 3 homers, 6 RBIs, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts.