R.I. -- By the time the Pawtucket Red Sox produced their first base
runner Sunday afternoon, the Columbus Clippers pulled away to a big
lead, only to barely hold on with a 6-5 victory before 6,969 at McCoy
The Clippers, who failed to protect a four-run advantage while falling to the Sox a night earlier, started ex-Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka against Pawtucket's Terry Doyle. Before Sunday, the former was winless, the latter unbeaten.
But Doyle (L, 2-1) struggled from the outset, walking five and allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings, and Matsuzaka opened by retiring the first nine batters.
In the 2nd, Columbus scored twice on RBI singles by Omir Santos and Matt Lawson. The Clippers added three in the 4th, including Lawson's two-run double, before reliever Jose De La Torre closed the inning.
When Matsuzaka returned to the mound for the bottom of the 4th, he delivered his first pitch to Justin Henry and immediately grabbed his left side. After a visit by the trainer, a grimacing Matsuzaka walked off, hunched over.
Lefty David Huff (W, 2-1) picked up for him and set down the first four he faced. Finally, Bryce Brentz singled with one out in the 5th inning as the PawSox first base runner.
An inning later, Columbus made it 6-0, capitalizing on two walks by Craig Breslow. Breslow, making his second injury-rehab appearance in as many games, left after an RBI single by Adam Abraham off his 26th pitch.
In the bottom half of the 6th, it appeared Drew Sutton's two-out fly ball to deep right would put Pawtucket on the board, but another ex-Red Sox Jeremy Hermida slammed into the wall and made a sensational catch to preserve the shutout.
However, there was no denying the long ball in the last of the 7th, when the PawSox produced the unprecedented. After Huff walked the leadoff batter, Mark Hamilton launched his second homer. Rob Bryson entered in relief for Columbus, only to give up two more home runs, Brentz's third and Dan Butler's second.
It marked the first time since at least 1977 (records don't predate that season) that Pawtucket went deep in back-to-back-to-back at-bats.
Ahead 6-4, Bryson started the 8th inning, but allowed a double by Justin Henry and a one-out walk of Ryan Lavarnway. The Clippers then summoned the International League co-leader with seven saves, Preston Guilmet. Hamilton promptly singled, giving him a third RBI and paring the difference to 6-5.
But Guilmet (S, 8) recovered to retire the next five PawSox, helping Columbus split the first two contests of the series.
Game 3 is set for 6:15 p.m. on Monday, when Steven Wright (1-0, 2.70) pitches against Trevor Bauer (1-0, 2.50). It's Wright's first outing since returning from Boston.