Matsuzaka outduels Cain as Red Sox edge GiantsJun 17, 2007 - 12:54 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka came as advertised Saturday. He had to in order to outduel Matt Cain.
The Japanese righthander tossed seven superb innings and Manny Ramirez belted his 479th career home run to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 1-0 triumph over the San Francisco Giants.
The Red Sox won their second consecutive contest against the Giants to maintain their 8 1/2-game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East Division. San Francisco, which currently resides in last place in the National League West, dropped its third straight overall.
Giants slugger Barry Bonds went hitless in three at-bats with an intentional walk. The seven-time NL MVP, who struck out looking against lefthander Hideki Okajima with two on in the eighth inning, remains eight home runs shy of Hank Aaron's all-time mark of 755.
With one out in the fourth, Ramirez laced a hanging 2-1 slider from Cain into the second row of seats above the "Green Monster" in left field and then struck a pose, giving Matsuzaka all the offensive support he needed.
"Today, it was everything," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He seemed to know that he got it. He might have been the only guy in the ballpark, but he seemed to know it was going out. That was a lot of hands and wrists in that swing, like maybe only he can do."
"That's what he's known for, and he did his job," Cain said. "I might have gotten away with a couple of others, but it didn't show. But obviously, that one stood out a ton and it cost us as a team and it hurt all of us. He took advantage of a bad pitch, and that's what hitters do and that's why him and (David) Ortiz are two great guys at doing that."
It was the only mistake made by Cain, who retired the final 11 batters he faced after Kevin Youkilis followed Ramirez's ninth blast of the season with a single.
"He was great today," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's thrown some terrific games and really had some tough luck. For some reason, we have a hard time getting him some runs, but he pitched his heart out today and gave us great effort."
The righthander (2-7) remained winless since May 13, losing his fourth straight decision despite allowing just a run and three hits in seven innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
"It hurts because we lost as a team," Cain said. "It doesn't matter if I'm 7-2 or 2-7. If we lose, that's the big thing, and none of us want to lose. We've just got get to back on that roll like we did in the beginning of the year."
Matsuzaka was even better, however, limiting San Francisco to three hits and three walks while striking out eight. The Tokyo native worked out of jams in both the first and sixth innings to snap a personal three-game losing streak.
"This was the first time I was able to hold the opponent to zero runs, and at the same time, I was able to protect our slim and precious one-run lead, so in that sense, I'm very happy with my performance today," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter.
In the first, Matsuzaka (8-5) got Bengie Molina to ground out to third with runners on first and second to escape unscathed. He faced his toughest test in the sixth, as Randy Winn led off the frame with a walk and moved to second on Ray Durham's single.
Bonds was unable to solve the infield shift Boston used, grounding into a forceout that advanced the runners. But Matsuzaka induced a lineout by Molina and, after hitting Nate Schierholtz with a pitch, struck out Rich Aurilia looking on a full count to preserve the shutout.
"When I got into trouble there in the sixth inning, I felt that I was able to reach inside myself and display a side of myself that I haven't been able to show up to (this) point, and that said to me, hopefully, that I'm heading in a new and good direction," Matsuzaka said.
Aurilia struck out in each of his three at-bats against Matsuzaka.
Okajima faced an identical jam in the eighth, walking leadoff hitter Winn and yielding a single to Durham. After falling behind Bonds 2-0, he received a visit from pitching coach John Farrell, whose advice apparently worked as Okajima fired three straight pitches past the gazing slugger.
"This guy (Okajima) is having a great year and he made some great pitches," Bochy said. "He got behind 2-0 and came back with three pitches, and you tip your cap at that point."
Molina flied out to right and pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen grounded into a forceout to end the threat.
Jonathan Papelbon came on and worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
"I was impressed by everybody that pitched today," Francona said. "Daisuke was really good on a day when he had to be every bit that good. Same thing with Okajima and (Papelbon) because their guy reminded me of Pap. He was good. Don't look at that record, he's a good pitcher."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
SAN FRANCISCO 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
BOSTON 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 1 5 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: SFO - MATT CAIN, KEVIN CORREIA (8TH) AND BENGIE MOLINA
BOS - DAISUKE MATSUZAKA, HIDEKI OKAJIMA (8TH), JONATHAN
PAPELBON (9TH) AND JASON VARITEK
HOME RUNS: SFO - N
Jun 16 6:49 PM
AT BOSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY MANNY RAMIREZ (9) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
THE 4TH OFF MATT CAIN.
CURRENT SCORE: SAN FRANCISCO 0, BOSTON 1
DUE UP FOR BOSTON: K YOUKILIS (.328, 0-FOR-1)
Giants vs. Red SoxJun 16 5:09 PM
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