Clay Buchholz took care of the Miami Marlins last week on the road and will face them tonight in his own backyard at Fenway Park.
Buchholz will have the honors of kicking off a three-game series for a Boston Red Sox team that is scheduled to play nine straight at home, including sets with Atlanta and Toronto. Buchholz took care of the Marlins in last Tuesday's 2-1 win with seven innings of one-run ball and a season-best nine strikeouts.
The lanky right-hander was able to post his third straight winning start and pushed his 2012 record to 7-2 in 13 outings to go along with a less-desirable 5.38 earned run average. It was the fourth straight start -- and fifth time in the last six outings -- that Buchholz has allowed two runs or less. He has enjoyed success in seven home starts this season as evidenced by his 4-1 record and 5.12 ERA.
"The ball's rolling right [now]," said Buchholz, who is 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in his last seven outings. "I gave up a lot of infield hits, balls that just got past an infielder early [in April and part of May]. That's what was really going good for me in 2010, whenever I was getting all the double plays and everything. A little bit of confidence helps."
Buchholz is 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA in four career interleague starts.
Boston may have built some confidence with two straight wins and four over the past five games since losing four in a row and seven of eight. The club won the last two matchups of a three-game weekend series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and won the set thanks to Sunday's 7-4 victory. David Ortiz hit his 16th home run and finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored, while Dustin Pedroia had two hits and an RBI.
Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish was activated before Sunday's game against the Cubs after outfielder Ryan Sweeney was placed on the disabled list. Kalish, who underwent neck surgery and separated his left shoulder, went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Franklin Morales made his first start since 2009 and allowed two runs in five innings with nine strikeouts. Morales was making a spot start for injured right-hander Josh Beckett. Matt Albers recorded the win in relief and gave up one unearned run in the sixth inning.
"You know what? I felt pretty good the first couple of innings," Morales said on the club's website. "I tried to get my confidence to make my pitches. After the first, I tried to get ahead in the count, make my pitch, and hit my spots."
Boston was swept in three games by Washington the last time playing at Fenway Park from June 8-10. The Red Sox are last in the American League East, but 21-14 since early May and all 14 losses in that stretch have been by four runs or less.
Miami's struggles continued this weekend in losing two of three meetings at Tampa Bay. The Marlins were shut out twice and outscored by a 17-4 score in the series, and have scored no more than four runs in each of the past 12 games.
In Sunday's 3-0 loss at Tropicana Field, Greg Dobbs and Gaby Sanchez each had a hit in the Marlins' two-hit attack and Josh Johnson's record dipped to 4-5 on the season after he yielded two runs and eight hits in six innings.
"We have to change whatever mentality we have," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen told the club's website. "Just make it easy. This is a game about making adjustments as quick as you can. That's the way you survive in the game. I'm not saying this because I'm a genius. I'm saying this because I played this game. I was very bad. But ... I had fun playing this game."
The Marlins were coming off Saturday's 4-3 win in 15 innings, then lost for the 10th time in 12 tries on Sunday.
Miami needs some help on the mound to get back on track, but Mark Buehrle may not be a suitable candidate. Buehrle has lost three straight starts since winning three in a row and gets the call tonight for the Marlins. He opposed Buchholz last Tuesday and was dealt the loss for giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings.
Buehrle fell to 5-7 in 13 starts with a 3.41 ERA, and had his 10-game interleague win streak come to an end. The left-hander, who hasn't won since May 26 versus San Francisco, is 2-4 in six starts on the road and 6-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 18 career games (17 starts) against the Red Sox.
The Marlins lost two of three at home to the Red Sox last week, and previously visited Boston in 2009 (1-2).