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Atlanta at Boston

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Atlanta000200000241
Boston «00002300x5140

Clement's complete game carries Red Sox over Braves

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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BOSTON -- Matt Clement knew he fit in well with the easygoing Boston Red Sox as soon as he reported to spring training. Now he's showing everybody else.

Clement's 5-0 record in 10 starts has ended any doubts about whether he could make a smooth transition to the AL after posting a losing record in seven NL seasons.

His latest victory came Sunday when he pitched seven perfect innings during his sixth career complete game, an efficient 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

"Efficient usually doesn't get put by my name," said Clement, who averaged 8.2 hits and 4.2 walks per nine innings entering this season. "I don't think everything was perfect, but everything worked. I made pitches when I had to."

He struck out seven, walked none and allowed four hits in Boston's first complete game this season, lowering his ERA to 3.34. In his team-high 10 starts, Clement has 47 strikeouts and 22 walks. He also is the first Red Sox pitcher to start 5-0 in his first season with the team since John Burkett went 7-0 in 2002.

Clement surpassed his previous best start, 4-0 with San Diego in 2000, and pitched his first complete game since Aug. 29, 2003, with the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee.

"You always want to get off to a good start with a new team," he said. "It's nice to feel like you fit in from the get-go and that's how it's felt from the day I walked in at spring training."

Clement threw just 110 pitches, two fewer than Atlanta starter John Smoltz threw in 4 2/3 innings.

The Braves "gave us some early-in-the-count outs that kept his pitch total down," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said.

By contrast, Boston's patience at the plate forced the Braves to go to their bullpen early. With the score 2-2, reliever Roman Colon (0-1) gave up three runs in the sixth on David Ortiz's RBI double and Manny Ramirez's 11th homer of the year, a two-run shot.

With starters John Thomson and Mike Hampton on the disabled list, Braves manager Bobby Cox hoped to get a lift from Smoltz, who left after allowing two unearned runs.

"He gave them his best shot," Cox said. "Our bullpen's been good lately."

At least the Braves get to go home now after a 12-game, 14-day road trip on which they went 4-8 and fell out of first place in the NL East. They face the New York Mets on Monday.

"It was one for the ages," Smoltz said. "We need to get home and play better baseball."

Ramirez finally did that in his own home park and emerged from a long slump. The World Series MVP went 3-for-5 to raise his batting average from .229 to .242.

"It all came down to Manny," Smoltz said. "He's a professional hitter and he got us today."

Yet Clement was the star, again justifying Boston's decision to sign him as a free agent after he went 9-13 with the Cubs last season.

He retired his first nine batters, four on strikeouts, before Atlanta took a 2-0 lead. Rafael Furcal led off the fourth with a double, went to third on a groundout and scored on a single by Marcus Giles. Atlanta then loaded the bases when Adam LaRoche was hit by a pitch and Andruw Jones singled. Johnny Estrada's sacrifice fly drove in Giles.

The other hit off Clement was a leadoff single by Pete Orr in the ninth, but manager Terry Francona never thought of taking him out.

"He stayed aggressive and he just attacked the strike zone," Francona said. "There was no reason to go get him."

Smoltz didn't allow a run until the fifth, when Boston tied it at 2 after stranding eight runners through four innings. Ortiz walked, went to second on an error by third baseman Wilson Betemit and scored on a single by Kevin Youkilis. Bill Mueller's single drove in the tying run.

Colon relieved Smoltz and ended the inning when Mark Bellhorn struck out for the second time. Bellhorn, who led the AL with a team-record 177 strikeouts last year, has fanned at least twice in 18 of his 37 starts this year.

But Colon ran into trouble in the sixth.

Johnny Damon singled, went to second on Edgar Renteria's groundout and scored on Ortiz's double. Ramirez then jumped on Colon's first pitch for a homer into the Braves' bullpen in right field.

Boston's cleanup hitter began breaking out of his slump when he doubled in a run in his last at-bat of Atlanta's 7-5 win Saturday night.

Notes

  • Boston 1B Kevin Millar did not play after fouling a ball off his left instep Saturday night. "He's very sore," Francona said. Youkilis started in place of Millar, who said he might be ready to play Tuesday in Toronto.
  • Atlanta activated RHP Kevin Gryboski from the 15-day disabled list and sent LHP Frank Brooks to Triple-A Richmond.
  • Every Red Sox starter got a hit except Renteria.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Matt Clement collects his sixth career complete game and improves his record to 5-0.  (AP)
Matt Clement collects his sixth career complete game and improves his record to 5-0. (AP)

Players of the Game
Boston

M. Clement
IP 9.0
H 4
ER 2
BB 0
K 7
Boston

M. Ramirez
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS4110010 .212
Pete Orr, LF4010011 .327
Marcus Giles, 2B4111011 .283
Adam LaRoche, 1B3000000 .254
Andruw Jones, CF4010001 .282
Johnny Estrada, C2001010 .256
Julio Franco, DH3000012 .229
Ryan Langerhans, RF3000010 .179
Wilson Betemit, 3B3000010 .294
Totals30242075 
Batting
2B - Rafael Furcal (6, Clement)
SF - Johnny Estrada (3)
RBI - Marcus Giles (7), Johnny Estrada (22)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Furcal-LaRoche
E - Wilson Betemit (4, Misplayed grounder)
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz 4.2920340 2.61
Roman Colon (L,0-1) 1.1333011 8.10
Matt Childers 1000100 3.00
Danny Kolb 1200020 6.11
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 112-73, Roman Colon 24-18, Matt Childers 14-9, Danny Kolb 25-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 6-4, Roman Colon 2-1, Matt Childers 2-1, Danny Kolb 1-0
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 26, Roman Colon 7, Matt Childers 4, Danny Kolb 5
Boston Red Sox
Johnny Damon, CF4110102 .362
Edgar Renteria, SS4000114 .239
David Ortiz, DH4221110 .285
Manny Ramirez, LF5132003 .242
Trot Nixon, RF5010013 .314
Jason Varitek, C5120013 .336
Kevin Youkilis, 1B4011013 .353
Bill Mueller, 3B4031000 .283
Mark Bellhorn, 2B3010124 .228
Totals3851454722 
Batting
2B - David Ortiz (16, Colon)
HR - Manny Ramirez (11, Colon)
RBI - David Ortiz (30), Manny Ramirez 2 (38), Kevin Youkilis (7), Bill Mueller (13)
2-OUT RBI - Kevin Youkilis (1), Bill Mueller (3)
Team LOB - 13
Boston Red Sox
Matt Clement (W,5-0) 9422070 3.34
HBP - LaRoche (by Matt Clement)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Clement 110-76
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Clement 10-10
Batters Faced - Matt Clement 32
Game Information
Attendance - 34844
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 53
Umpires - Home - Bob Davidson, First Base - Rob Drake, Second Base - Mike Reilly, Third Base - Andy Fletcher