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Atlanta (26-17)0000003003101
Boston (29-13) «12004510x13180

Lowell hits sixth career grand slam, Dice-K stifles Braves in rout

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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BOSTON -- Mike Lowell and Daisuke Matsuzaka are off to great starts. What the Red Sox have done early this season is even more amazing.

With Matsuzaka winning his fifth straight decision, Boston routed Atlanta 13-3 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader Saturday, boosting its AL East lead to 10½ games, its largest ever at this point in the season.

Lowell led Boston's season-high 18-hit attack with four hits, including a grand slam, and five RBI on a drizzly day. That increased his batting average to .333 and gave him 35 RBI in 39 games.

What skills contribute to his fast starts?

"If I knew, I'd use them in July, August and September," he said.

Last season, his first with Boston, Lowell was batting .331 on May 19 but finished at .284. Two years before that, with Florida, his average of .343 on May 19 dropped to .293 by the end of the season.

But Lowell anticipates no such drop-off in his team's success, especially with cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez hitting just .255 with six homers.

"Manny still hasn't gotten hot like you've seen him when he can just basically carry a team for like 10 days at a time," Lowell said. "We're playing good baseball, but I think we can actually do a little better."

The Red Sox (29-12) won for the 10th time in 12 games while the Braves have lost five of six.

In its last series, Boston took three of four games from defending AL champion Detroit. The Red Sox opened that series with a 7-1 win last Monday behind Matsuzaka's first complete game in the majors.

Matsuzaka (6-2) felt he could have gone nine innings again Saturday.

"I think I can probably throw between 140 and 150 pitches," he said through a translator after throwing 104. "The manager came in and spoke to me and said that, given our big lead, go and get some rest."

He struck out six and allowed nine hits in eight innings. He didn't issue a walk for his second straight outing. Kyle Snyder pitched the ninth.

"He just moves the ball around so much," Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur said of Matsuzaka. "He's got so many pitches. Nothing seems to go straight. ... When he got a big lead, you could see he was getting more confident."

Francoeur did go 3-for-3 against him, snapping a 1-for-14 slump.

Matsuzaka had allowed just five singles in six scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the seventh on a double by Chipper Jones, an RBI single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Francoeur's seventh homer of the season.

Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis and Wily Mo Pena also homered for the Red Sox, who knocked Anthony Lerew (0-2) out of his third major league start after just two innings. Youkilis extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games and Lowell's reached 10 games.

"I've had a little soreness in my elbow the last month or so," Lerew said. "I've just got to get some treatment on it and see what's going on in there."

After Lugo's two-run double made it 12-0 in the sixth, fans mocked the Braves by doing the tomahawk chop that Atlanta spectators do when the team does well.

Lugo started Boston's attack by leading off the first with his third homer of the season. Youkilis hit his fifth homer, a two-run shot in the second. Lowell's eighth homer, his sixth career grand slam, made it 7-0 in the fifth.

The Red Sox added five runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Lowell and two-run doubles by Coco Crisp and Lugo.

Lowell needed just a triple to hit for the cycle.

"The triple's always a tough one for me," he said. "I think I need a collision in center field and a couple of medics out there."

Manager Terry Francona began resting starters when he put Pena in left field in place of Ramirez to start the seventh. Pena then hit a solo homer, his third, in the bottom of the inning.

Notes

  • The doubleheader was caused by Friday night's rainout.
  • Of the 28 runs Matsuzaka has allowed, 20 have come in just seven innings.
  • The Red Sox batted around in both the fifth and sixth innings.
  • Lowell's grand slam was the second by Boston this season. Pena hit one on April 26 to give Boston a 5-2 win and erase Baltimore's 2-1 lead.
  • Lowell also came up with the bases loaded in the first and flied out.
  • Former Red Sox SS Edgar Renteria had three hits for the Braves.
  • Matsuzaka threw 67 pitches in his first six innings. Atlanta reliever Chad Paronto threw 42 pitches in 1 1/3 innings.
 
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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Mike Lowell has a hug waiting for him after his grand slam in the fifth inning.  (AP)
Mike Lowell has a hug waiting for him after his grand slam in the fifth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Boston

M. Lowell
AB 5
R 2
H 4
HR 1
RBI 5
Atlanta

J. Francoeur
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B4000020 .268
Edgar Renteria, SS4030010 .341
    Chris Woodward, SS0000000 .216
Chipper Jones, 3B4110013 .299
Andruw Jones, CF4000013 .219
Brian McCann, C2000001 .273
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C2121000 .294
Jeff Francoeur, RF4132001 .301
Scott Thorman, 1B4000003 .262
Matt Diaz, DH3010001 .317
Willie Harris, LF3000010 .380
Totals34310306  
Batting
2B - Chipper Jones (14, Matsuzaka)
HR - Jeff Francoeur (7, Matsuzaka)
RBI - Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2), Jeff Francoeur 2 (32)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Renteria-Johnson-Thorman
E - Edgar Renteria (4, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Anthony Lerew (L,0-2) 2533202 7.71
Oscar Villarreal 1100110 4.50
Mark Redman 1.1444211 11.63
Chad Paronto 1.1554100 8.25
Macay McBride 1.1211001 6.23
Peter Moylan 1100000 1.96
IBB - Drew by Anthony Lerew
Pitches-Strikes - Anthony Lerew 48-26, Oscar Villarreal 19-10, Mark Redman 49-27, Chad Paronto 42-26, Macay McBride 21-11, Peter Moylan 23-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anthony Lerew 1-5, Oscar Villarreal 1-0, Mark Redman 1-2, Peter Moylan 1-2
Batters Faced - Anthony Lerew 13, Oscar Villarreal 4, Mark Redman 10, Chad Paronto 10, Macay McBride 6, Peter Moylan 4
Boston Red Sox
Julio Lugo, SS5123003 .256
    Alex Cora, SS1010000 .373
Kevin Youkilis, 1B6112004 .327
David Ortiz, DH3230100 .320
   a- Eric Hinske, PH-DH1000000 .195
Manny Ramirez, LF4120002 .255
    Wily Mo Pena, LF1111000 .267
J.D. Drew, RF3210210 .252
Mike Lowell, 3B5245003 .333
Jason Varitek, C4000116 .272
Coco Crisp, CF4122101 .241
Dustin Pedroia, 2B4210101 .253
Totals4113181362  
a-fouled out for Ortiz in the 7th
Batting
2B - Julio Lugo (10, Paronto), David Ortiz (17, Paronto), Manny Ramirez (5, Lerew), Mike Lowell (10, Villarreal), Coco Crisp (7, Paronto)
HR - Julio Lugo (3, Lerew), Kevin Youkilis (5, Lerew), Wily Mo Pena (3, McBride), Mike Lowell (8, Redman)
RBI - Julio Lugo 3 (26), Kevin Youkilis 2 (22), Wily Mo Pena (6), Mike Lowell 5 (35), Coco Crisp 2 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Julio Lugo 2 (8), Kevin Youkilis 2 (9), Coco Crisp 2 (6)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Manny Ramirez 1
DP - Youkilis-Lugo-Matsuzaka, Lugo-Youkilis
Boston Red Sox
Daisuke Matsuzaka (W,6-2) 8933061 4.06
Kyle Snyder 1100000 1.84
Pitches-Strikes - Daisuke Matsuzaka 103-72, Kyle Snyder 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Daisuke Matsuzaka 8-7, Kyle Snyder 1-2
Batters Faced - Daisuke Matsuzaka 30, Kyle Snyder 4
Game Information
Attendance - 36358
Game Time - 3:02
Temperature - 49
Umpires - Home - Mike Reilly, First Base - Chad Fairchild, Second Base - Scott Barry, Third Base - Eric Cooper