Buchholz quiets Twins

Published 9:30 am Thursday, May 20, 2010

Clay Buchholz gave Boston’s struggling big-name rotation a lift with his best performance of the season.

The right-hander who began the year with just 12 career wins allowed two runs on five hits in eight-plus innings, David Ortiz hit a two-run homer and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on a rainy Wednesday night.

Buchholz began spring training competing with Tim Wakefield for a spot in the rotation behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Now his ERA of 3.26 is better than all of theirs.

Email newsletter signup

“I think anybody on the staff can take the responsibility to pick up the rotation,” the 25-year-old Buchholz said. “I definitely wanted to go out and get deep into the game.”

Buchholz (5-3) left after allowing a leadoff single to Denard Span in the ninth. Daniel Bard gave up a run on Joe Mauer’s groundout, then worked out of a first-and-second jam and picked up his first save of the year and second of his career by retiring Jim Thome on a groundout.

In six of his eight starts this year, Buchholz allowed three or fewer earned runs. And dating back to last Aug. 19, his 11 wins are the most by any AL pitcher. Andy Pettitte, David Price and Justin Verlander have 10 each.

“I felt like I picked up where I left off last year” when he won six of his last seven decisions, Buchholz said. “You gain confidence from doing well.”

He’s become a solid part of the rotation after spending the last three seasons in and out of it.

In his previous start, Buchholz gave up one run on three hits and five walks in 6 1-3 innings in a 7-2 win at Detroit. In between, four other starters allowed at least four runs in their outings. And now Beckett is on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain and Matsuzaka is coming off a horrible start after which he criticized Victor Martinez’s pitch calling.