The Boston Red Sox are trying to create some breathing room atop the AL East, and getting Clay Buchholz back could help them do that.
Buchholz returns from a brief injury absence looking to become the first Red Sox starter to go 8-0 in five years Sunday night in the conclusion of this three-game set with the slumping New York Yankees .
Boston (34-23) regained a two-game lead in the East with an 11-1 victory Saturday after falling 4-1 in the series opener a day earlier.
Sending Buchholz (7-0, 1.73 ERA), owner of the AL's lowest ERA, to the mound should improve the team's chances of winning its second consecutive series at Yankee Stadium.
The right-hander is also trying to become the first Red Sox starter to win his first eight decisions in a season since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008.
Buchholz missed his latest attempt at his eighth victory Monday, when he was scratched from his scheduled start with irritation in his collarbone area. The layoff seems to have helped.
"The place I originally felt the stiffness, it's pretty much gone," said Buchholz, who last pitched May 22. "It's just the soreness from, like I said Wednesday, from messing around and pulling and tugging with the muscles in the training room, but no, it just feels muscular. In the bullpen, I threw pretty much max effort. The ball came out of my hand a lot better there too.
"I'm ready to get back out there. It's hard sitting around watching your team battling and trying to win games and not being a part of it."
He was outstanding in his most recent start in the Bronx, allowing one run over seven innings of a 7-4 win April 3. However, he's 3-2 with a 6.34 ERA in six career outings there.
"It's a tough place to pitch sometimes, but when you can go out there and win two out of three games, it definitely gives your team a boost," said Buchholz, who is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four road starts this year.
Boston's offense rebounded Saturday after it was shut down by CC Sabathia on Friday, collecting a season-high 18 hits with four doubles and three homers. Mike Napoli accounted for three of those hits, including his second grand slam of the season.
Daniel Nava matched career highs with four hits and four RBIs. He's batting .328 with 13 RBIs over his past 16 games.
Saturday's loss was the sixth in seven games for the Yankees (31-24), who have averaged 2.1 runs and hit .224 during that span.
Robinson Cano can't be blamed for the anemic offense since he's 9 for 28 (.321) over the past seven games. However, he's 2 for 18 in five season meetings with Boston.
With the bats scuffling, New York could use another strong performance from Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.39), who has won four straight home starts behind a 0.90 ERA.
The right-hander was superb on the road Tuesday, striking out seven over seven scoreless innings against the Mets. He was in line for the win before Mariano Rivera faltered in the ninth inning of a 2-1 loss.
Kuroda is 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, but he exited his most recent after being hit in the hand by a line drive April 3. He allowed two runs while hitting two batters in 1 1-3 innings opposite Buchholz.
One of those hit batters was Nava, who is 3 for 9 against Kuroda while being plunked three times.
Dustin Pedroia is 7 for 15 with a home run off Kuroda.
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||0||.000||0||0||0||0||0||1.000||1.000||.000|
|Boston Red Sox|
|May 31, 2013||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Tight left groin|
|May 26, 2013||Clay Buchholz||Day-to-Day||Right collarbone pain|
|May 24, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Low back strain|
|May 23, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 21, 2013||Shane Victorino||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|May 20, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
|New York Yankees|
|June 01, 2013||Chris Stewart||Day-to-Day||Left game - dehydration|
|May 25, 2013||Curtis Granderson||15-Day DL||Broken left pinkie finger|
|May 24, 2013||Curtis Granderson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Broken left pinkie finger|
|May 24, 2013||David Phelps||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right arm injury|
|May 17, 2013||Andy Pettitte||15-Day DL||Strained left trapezius muscle|
|May 16, 2013||Andy Pettitte||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight left trapezius|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Three delays, 5 1/2 innings and another sensational outing by Clay Buchholz - albeit a short one.
Buchholz allowed two hits in an abbreviated shutout and the Boston Red Sox got home runs from David Ortiz and Jose Iglesias in a 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees that was stopped after 5 1/2 innings because of rain Sunday night.
Buchholz (8-0) outpitched Hiroki Kuroda and was pulled after the second of three weather delays. Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller was announced into the game and was warming up on the mound when play was abruptly halted for good, but Buchholz would be credited with a complete game because Miller never faced a batter, according to official scorer Jordan Sprechman.
"That's awesome," Buchholz said.
Just before that, the game had resumed for all of 4 minutes before heavy rain returned. Hours earlier, the first pitch was pushed back 45 minutes because thunderstorms were expected to move through the area - though the rain held off until the top of the sixth inning.
"Three rain delays - a fake one and two real ones," Ortiz said. "What else can you do? You just stick around and see how things end up."
Boston took two of three at Yankee Stadium for the second time this season and left town with a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East over Baltimore. The Yankees fell into a third-place tie with Tampa Bay, three games back.
New York has lost seven of eight and nine of 12.
Including their season-opening visit, the Red Sox have won their first two series at Yankee Stadium for the second time in 25 years. They also did it in 2011.
"That's how you get yourself closer to the playoffs," Ortiz said. "Winning series, winning series, winning series."
Buchholz looked perfectly strong and healthy after missing a turn Monday because of irritation in his collarbone area. He yielded only groundball singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Austin Romine while lowering his major league-best ERA to 1.62. The right-hander is tied with Tampa Bay lefty Matt Moore for the best record in the AL.
"I've felt really good up to this point," Buchholz said. "I'm just trying to ride the wave."
Pitching for the first time in 11 days, his only dicey moment came when he jumped away from the bag to avoid contact on Brett Gardner 's leadoff groundout to first base.
Buchholz also beat Kuroda (6-4) at Yankee Stadium on April 3 and has given up one run over 12 innings in two starts against New York this year.
Ortiz led off the sixth with his 10th home run, a high and long drive that landed in the raised bleachers in right field. He took his time trotting around the bases.
"What went further, the ball or your bat flip?" teammate Will Middlebrooks said, needling Ortiz as he walked by.
After a single and a flyout, heavy showers suddenly poured down and fans scurried hastily up the aisles for cover. Plate umpire Vic Carapazza called for the tarp almost immediately, and most Yankees players jogged off the field.
But not Kuroda.
Dejected and probably aware his outing was over, he walked slowly off the mound with his head down. Without even looking up, he underhanded the game ball into the third row of now-empty seats before descending into the dugout.
Boone Logan relieved after a 37-minute delay and got two quick outs.
Four minutes later it started pouring again, even harder this time, and the tarp went back on. After a 45-minute wait - and some of the loudest thunder and lightning imaginable - the game was called.
In the dugout, even a few Yankees got jumpy when the thunder boomed and lightning crackled.
"I heard guys buckled a bit during the storm," manager Joe Girardi said. "I wasn't there but the satellite TV in my office went out."
Consecutive singles to start the fourth by Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz put runners at the corners for Mike Napoli , who got his team-leading 45th RBI with a groundout.
Iglesias sent the first pitch of the fifth to left for his second major league home run in 127 at-bats. Ortiz later connected for No. 411 of his career.
The 23-year-old Iglesias is considered a defensive whiz at shortstop - with a much better glove than bat. But he's been subbing at third base for the injured Middlebrooks and is 14 for 33 (.424) since he was recalled May 24 from Triple-A Pawtucket.
And while Ortiz has been a Yankees nemesis almost since the day he joined the Red Sox in 2003, the surprising Iglesias has quickly become a particular pest to them this season with a .545 average in 22 at-bats.
"I wanted to go up and in to him but I didn't," Kuroda said through a translator. "Both home runs were bad pitches."
NOTES: Boston CF Jacoby Ellsbury missed the entire series with tightness in his left groin. After a day off Monday, the team hopes to have him back Tuesday night for the opener of a three-game series against AL West-leading Texas. ... Shane Victorino (strained left hamstring) is not running full speed yet and manager John Farrell said it's "probably a little premature" to say the speedy outfielder will go out on a minor league rehab assignment Monday or Tuesday. ... Pedroia has started all 58 games this season. ... Boston is 21-21 at the new Yankee Stadium. ... New York LHP Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.83 ERA) is set to come off the disabled list and start Monday night against Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson (8-3, 3.07). Pettitte has been out since May 17 with a strained muscle in his upper back.