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March 15, 2014

Buchholz has strong start, Sox beat Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Clay Buchholz pitched two-hit ball for four scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 on Friday.

Buchholz allowed singles by Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera in the first and struck out three. The right-hander, who was 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts last season before injuries slowed him, has not allowed a run since his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 4.

“I thought he was in command for the four innings of work,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

“He had three very good pitches working for him: his curveball, cutter and fastball. I thought he had better stuff than five days ago. You see his velocity’s starting to climb a little bit and the later action to all his secondary pitches. But more importantly, he pitched very comfortable with very good stuff,” he said.

Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, allowed four hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts in 4 2-3 innings.

Corey Brown and Sean Coyle hit RBI doubles for the Red Sox.

Jonathan Diaz scored Toronto’s run on a double to left field by Kevin Pillar in the eighth.

STARTING TIME

Blue Jays: Hutchison threw 70 pitches. He said he wants to focus on finishing the rest of the exhibition season strong and isn’t looking ahead when it comes to the final spot in the starting rotation.

“It doesn’t do me any benefit to think ahead or think behind,” he said. “You just focus on each pitch and continue to execute and perform.”

Red Sox: Buchholz said most of his pitches have been effective, but he is still working to improve his changeup.

“It’s better that it’s down than up, but I haven’t quite got a feel for it and that’s a pitch that I use a lot,” Buchholz said. “I wanted to work on it a little more today, but when you spike it in the dirt, it’s a pitch that’s not getting any attempted swings and you’re just putting yourself behind in the count.”

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