Felix Doubront fired seven scoreless innings to continue his recent pitching prowess and keep the Boston Red Sox in first place after Sunday's 4-0 interleague victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks from Fenway Park.
Doubront (8-5) yielded just five singles and didn't walk a batter while striking out five in the young lefty's 15th consecutive start of allowing three earned runs or fewer, the longest stretch by a Red Sox hurler since Tim Wakefield did so in 17 straight in 1995.
"I've been consistent in my five-day routine and just taking my plan for my next outing," said Doubront afterward. "That's the most important thing."
Jacoby Ellsbury aided Doubront's cause by knocking in a pair of runs, while Shane Victorino added an RBI single as part of a 2-for-3 day that helped Boston take the rubber match of this three-game set and post its fifth win in its last six contests. The surge has kept the Red Sox one game in front of Tampa Bay for the top spot in the AL East.
Brandon McCarthy (2-5) worked 4 1/3 innings and struck out five in his first start since May 30, but was touched for a pair of runs on five hits while returning from a shoulder injury.
Martin Prado and Cody Ross each finished 2-for-4 for the Diamondbacks, but Arizona went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven baserunners en route to a sixth setback in eight games.
McCarthy showed no signs of rust from his layoff early on, keeping Boston off the board in each of the first four innings and not allowing a hit until Mike Carp singled with two outs in the fourth.
The Red Sox finally got to the right-hander an inning later, however. Singles by Stephen Drew and Brock Holt to begin the bottom of the fifth put runners at the corners for Ellsbury, who lofted a fly ball deep enough to center to bring home the game's initial run.
Victorino followed with a single to push Holt to third, right before Dustin Pedroia doubled into the left-field corner to push Boston's lead to 2-0.
"Towards the end, I just felt my lack of game shape," said McCarthy said. "I just wasn't able to execute as much as I'd like and the ball kind of started getting up a little bit. Against a team like that, you're going to pay for it a little bit."
The two runs were all Doubront needed. The southpaw scattered four hits over the opening six frames, with the Diamondbacks failing to get a runner past first during that stretch, and had set down 13 of the last 15 batters he faced until Paul Goldschmidt reached on an error to begin the seventh. Ross singled two batters later to put two on with one out, but Doubront thwarted Arizona's biggest scoring threat by retiring the next two hitters.
"We had [Doubront] on the ropes and couldn't get anything when we needed to," said Ross. "He made some good pitches and located the ball well. But we had our opportunities and we blew it. They didn't. When they had some opportunities, they capitalized."
The Red Sox provided some insurance in the bottom of the sixth, coming up with four singles over a five-batter span against Josh Collmenter to increase the margin to 4-0. Ellsbury plated the first of those runs with a base hit to right, with Victorino's second single of the day driving in the final one.
Matt Thornton relieved Doubront to start the eighth inning but left with an undisclosed injury after facing only one batter ... Doubront has also allowed no more than three earned runs in all 10 of his Fenway Park starts this year, the longest season-opening streak by a Red Sox lefty at home since Mel Parnell in 1948 ... Heath Bell recorded the final four outs for Arizona to extend his scoreless innings streak in interleague play to 20 1/3 frames ... Arizona designated reliever Tony Sipp for assignment prior to the game to make room for McCarthy on the active roster.