Clay Buchholz bounced back nicely from his rough start against Chicago with his best performance since his 2007 no-hitter on Saturday, going 8 1/3 innings in beating Toronto for the third time this season, 3-2.
Buchholz allowed just two hits going into the ninth. With one out and one on, Terry Francona went to Hideki Okajima to face two lefties, and he gave up two line drive hits, and it was 3-2. Jonathan Papelbon came in and got a foul out from Vernon Wells, and old friend Kevin Millar popped up to third to give the Sox the win and Pap his 32nd save.
Buchholz struck out a season-high nine, and was not in trouble all night. It should have been an easier win for Buchholz, but the Red Sox were leaving men everywhere all night. They left 12 men on, 6 in the first three innings. Ricky Romero, the Blue Jays' starter who had a 10.80 ERA against the Red Sox in two starts this year, looked like he wouldn't last beyond the first few innings but wriggled out of trouble in almost every inning he was out there.
But three runs was all Buchholz needed. He gave up 7 runs in his last start against the White Sox on Monday in 4 2/3 innings. Twice this season Buchholz has squandered wins while getting tons of run support. This night was just the opposite, as the Red Sox couldn't bust the game wide open for him. Maybe that was a good thing for him, as the closer game seemed to make him bare down a bit more.
New York won against the White Sox in the afternoon, keeping the East deficit at 6 games, and Texas won in Minnesota, keeping the Sox' Wild Card lead at 2 1/2 games. Today, it's Byrd vs. Birds, as Paul Byrd makes his 2009 debut for the Red Sox. Jon Lester was pushed back to Tuesday night at Tampa bay because Tim Wakefield's back problems surfaced again, and his scheduled start Tuesday is now off. We can only hope it's just a bump in the road, and not a recurrance of his recent sciattica problems.