Matsuzaka outduels Sabathia as Red Sox win fifth straightJul 25, 2007 - 6:20 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka and C.C. Sabathia didn't look like two pitchers who were struggling.
Matsuzaka and Sabathia hooked up in a classic pitchers' duel as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Cleveland Indians, 1-0, on Tuesday night.
Matsuzaka, who was 1-2 with 7.31 ERA in his previous three starts, held the Indians scoreless in seven innings while giving up four hits. The Japanese righthander struck out five and walked three.
"I think my stuff was the same," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "My command was better and I was able to pitch better with runners on base."
Matsuzaka (12-7) bounced back from his previous start against the Indians. On May 30 he gave up six runs and a season-high 12 hits in a 6-2 defeat. The loss at the time snapped a season-high six-game winning streak.
"Obviously because I lost my last start against them, I didn't want to lose to them again," Matsuzaka said. "He worked in-and-out of trouble the whole game, but the Indians were unable to capitalize on any opportunities, going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"We were able to get runners in scoring position a couple of times," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "We were one hit away from scoring a run or having a big inning. We just didn't do a good job out there in those situations."
Cleveland loaded the bases in the first, but Matsuzaka struck out Jhonny Peralta to end the threat.
Matsuzaka would get out of a jam in the fourth. The Indians had first and second and one out, but the righthander stuck out Ben Francisco and Josh Barfield to end the inning.
In the seventh Francisco led off with a single to left, but was erased as Barfield failed to execute a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Barfield stole second, but Matsuzaka got Casey Blake to pop out before turning it over to the bullpen.
"It seemed like we were one swing away, one at-bat away from getting something going," Barfield said.
"Cleveland made him work, but he worked out of it," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It's not easy to put zeroes up against that lineup."
Matsuzaka's night ended after that at-bat, despite throwing only 98 pitches, because Francona said he was going to the bullpen.
"He (Francona) told me he was going to go to (Hideki) Okajima and (Jonathan) Papelbon," Matsuzaka said. "When you hear those names it is tough to argue."
The plan worked out as Okajima pitched a perfect eighth and Papelbon worked the ninth to pick up his 23rd save in 24 opportunities.
Sabathia (13-5) hasn't looked like an elite pitcher in the month of July. The burly lefthander entered the game with a 1-2 record and an 8.41 ERA in his past three games.
Boston put together a rally in the fourth to score the game's only run.
Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez each hit one-out singles. After a Coco Crisp strikeout, Mike Lowell blooped a single into shallow left off of Sabathia in front of diving Francisco, who broke back on contact allowing the ball to drop in.
"It was a big swing," Francisco said. "You kind of freeze on those. It's a play you'd like to make, but I came up short."
The fourth would be the only inning that the Red Sox had a runner past first base against Sabathia. The lefthander, who turned 27 three days ago, allowed just the one run and five hits while striking out seven.
"I had good command and established both sides of the plate," Sabathia said. "That was something I hadn't been doing my last three starts."
It was the third 1-0 game Sabathia has been involved in this season. The Indians are 1-2 in those games and Sabathia is 1-1 with a no-decision.
The win was the Red Sox fifth in a row, and fourth without slugger David Ortiz. Ortiz, who has a strained left shoulder, is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday
"We're going to quit trying to do that," Francona said. "He's going to play tomorrow and we'll see how that works."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
BOSTON 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
CLEVELAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: BOS - DAISUKE MATSUZAKA, HIDEKI OKAJIMA (8TH), JONATHAN PAPELBON
(9TH) AND JASON VARITEK
CLE - C.C. SABATHIA, RAFAEL BETANCOURT (8TH) AND VICTOR
Jul 24 10:00 PM
AT CLEVELAND - SCORING UPDATE
SINGLE BY MIKE LOWELL SCORED KEVIN YOUKILIS.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M LOWELL ON FIRST, M RAMIREZ ON THIRD, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 1
CLEVELAND 0 TOP, 4TH
DUE UP FOR BOSTON: J VARITEK (.266, 0-FOR-1)
Red Sox vs. IndiansJul 24 8:17 PM
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