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Buchholz continues strong spring vs. Blue Jays

Right-hander holds Toronto to just two hits over four scoreless innings

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Clay Buchholz pitched four scoreless innings and Corey Brown hit an RBI double to lead the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Buchholz entered the game having tossed three no-hit innings during his last outing against the Pirates. He was nearly as effective vs. the Blue Jays and got through his afternoon allowing just two hits while striking out three.

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The 29-year-old has allowed just one run, five hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts in his eight innings of work this spring. He appears to be rounding into form with just over two weeks remaining until the start of the regular season.

"From the first time out to today, I was able to get better as far as the innings progression. I threw efficiently with command of the four-seamer and two-seam fastballs," Buchholz said. "I was able a couple times, when I fell behind, able to come back and pound the strike zone. First inning, a couple of hard-hit balls and had some pretty good, tough, long at-bats. From there on out I felt pretty comfortable about moving the ball around, just with the fastball."

Buchholz was matched almost pitch for pitch by Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison on a day when there wasn't a lot of offense. The 23-year-old was consistently hitting 92-93 miles per hour early in his outing, and by the time Hutchison departed in the fifth, he was sitting around 95 mph.

"Great performance," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hutchison. "Two good ones. You know, Buchholz, same thing. They matched each other. That's what you need. Even though it's Spring Training, you go up against the top guys in the league, you've got to match them to give yourself a chance. We're all impressed."

Hutchison began his outing with four scoreless innings, and it wasn't until the start of the fifth when there was a sign of trouble. Hutchison allowed a leadoff single to Jonny Gomes and then served up an RBI double to Brown as the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead.

It didn't take long for Hutchison to bounce back, though, as he went on to strike out both Ryan Lavarnway and Brock Holt to end the threat. Hutchison allowed just the one run on four hits while recording seven strikeouts.

Boston then added another pair of runs in the eighth inning, while the Blue Jays were held in check until the bottom of that frame. Kevin Pillar finally broke the shutout with an RBI double to right field.

Up next: Lefty ace Jon Lester will start for the Red Sox as they welcome the Phillies to JetBlue Park on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. ET game (watch on MLB.TV). Lester will be making his second Grapefruit League appearance after striking out four and allowing only one hit over three innings on Monday against the Rays. Left-hander Chris Capuano, right-hander Burke Badenhop, lefty Andrew Miller and righty Edward Mujica are also scheduled to pitch for Boston, while Cliff Lee will get the start for Philadelphia.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz