Nationals - 010 300 000 - 4 5 3 Red Sox - 000 000 200 - 2 5 0Matsuzaka (5-5-4-1-8, 80) looked pretty good in his return, despite a rough (and somewhat unlucky) fourth inning. And for the second straight day, the Red Sox got nothing substantial off the Nationals' pitching staff.
Dice retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, attacking the hitters and striking out five; the one exception was a first-pitch home run by Adam LaRoche leading off the second.
Matsuzaka walked Bryce Harper on four pitches to start the fourth and Ryan Zimmerman snuck a ground ball single past Mike Aviles's right side into left field. After LaRoche struck out, Michael Morse doubled into the right field corner for one run, and Ian Desmond singled past Kevin Youkilis at first for two more.
David Ortiz doubled in the second and took third on a wild pitch with one out, but was stranded. Dustin Pedroia was on second with one out in the sixth, but did not advance.
Boston finally broke through with one out in the seventh. Will Middlebrooks walked and Aviles singled. That was the end of Gio Gonzalez's day (6.1-3-2-2-5, 98). Craig Stammen walked pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney, loading the bases. Mike Gonzalez came in to face another pinch-hitter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Nats' plan was to have Salty bat right-handed (.167 average as a RHB this year). It didn't work. Salty smashed the first pitch off the Wall and two runs scored. But with runners at first and third, Daniel Nava struck out looking and Pedroia fouled out to first.
The Red Sox went in order in the eighth. With two outs in the ninth, Sweeney doubled, giving Salty (as the potential tying run) a chance to be the hero. But he grounded a 1-1 pitch to first and the game was over. Boston dropped back below .500, at 29-30, 5 GB the Rays.
Nava, LF365 days ago, Matsuzaka had Tommy John surgery. Today, he returns to the Fenway mound to face the pesky Nats.
What does Bobby Valentine expect?
It's hard to know. ... I hope he throws strikes and I hope he has two pitches to do it with and I'd be happy if that happened. We're going to go inning by inning and I'm going to check with him after the inning. Hopefully, he'll be able to get in the dugout before I have to make a decision.Also: Kevin Millwood and five Seattle relievers combined to no-hit the Dodgers 1-0 last night.