Red Sox - 000 020 000 - 2 4 0 Rays - 000 000 000 - 0 4 0Despite not having pitched against major league hitters since June 8, Clay Buchholz (5-3-0-1-6, 74) picked up right where he left off, throwing five shutout innings. He allowed three hits and one walk, and struck out six, lowering his ERA to 1.61. Boston increased its AL East lead to 8.5 games.
David Price (8-3-2-0-9, 127) was the hard-luck loser. He set down the first 12 Boston batters he faced, but gave up a double to Mike Napoli to start the fifth. Napoli hit the ball deep to center and Desmond Jennings appeared to have a play on it, but Jennings looked away at the last moment and the ball missed his glove and hit off the padded wall. Jonny Gomes followed with a ground-ball single to left-center and Jennings' throw to the plate was way off the mark, allowing Gomes to take second. Daniel Nava bunted Gomes to third and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's sacrifice fly to center brought him home.
Buchholz allowed two singles in the second inning, one with one out and another with two down, then retired Jose Molina to end the minor threat. David DeJesus singled with one out in the third and was thrown out stealing. Matt Joyce walked with one down in the fourth and was gunned down as part of a double play with James Loney gawking at strike three.
Craig Breslow pitched two innings after Buchholz departed. He walked two Rays, but neither runner got past first base. Junichi Tazawa surrendered a two-out double to Yunel Escobar in the eighth and gave way to Koji Uehara. The unhittable Uehara got Wil Myers to end the eighth, then set down the Rays' 2-3-4 hitters in the ninth for the save.
Uehara has retired the last 31 batters he has faced. Since July 9, he has pitched 28.1 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 38! In those two months, opposing batters are hitting [sic] .071/.081 /.094.
Buchholz (1.71 ERA) returns - on 94 days rest - to the starting rotation to kick off a three-game series against the second-place Rays. ... In noting the last three weeks of the regular season, the Globe's Peter Abraham calls Tampa Bay's upcoming schedule "brutal".
When it comes to chemistry and camaraderie, Pedro Martinez sees a lot of similarities between this year's team and the 2004 Red Sox.
Will Middlebrooks (13-for-28, four HRs, nine RBIs, eight runs scored) and Mike Napoli (10-for-21, four doubles, four HRs, nine RBIs, 1.143 slugging) were named AL Co-Players of the Week.
As you probably know, Jacoby Ellsbury has a compression fracture in the navicular bone of his right foot. John Farrell believes Ellsbury will return before the end of the regular season.
Koji Uehara has retired the last 27 batters he has faced, dating back to August 17, the first Red Sox reliever to do so since 1980. Uehara has also gone 27 innings without allowing a run.
John Tomase of the Herald and WEEI's Alex Speier say it's not too early to start thinking about the Red Sox's playoff roster.
Cool Standings has the Red Sox at 99% to win the East and 99.9% to make the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus has the odds at 99.4% and 100%, respectively.