BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz knew his first trip to the major leagues would be short. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the 23-year-old prospect was heading back to Triple-A even if he threw a no-hitter.
So Buchholz made the most of his opportunity, pitching six innings and winning his major league debut as the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-4 Friday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
"It's every baseball player's dream to come up here and pitch and play," the skinny right-hander said. "I'll never forget it."
Buccholz was sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket between games. Catcher Kevin Cash was called up from the minor league club -- the Red Sox needed the help because backup catcher Doug Mirabelli strained his right calf in the first game.
David Ortiz homered to highlight a six-run first inning as the Red Sox won the start of a four-game series between AL division leaders.
Boston began the day with a 5½-game lead over the New York Yankees in the East.
Buchholz (1-0), one of Boston's top prospects, said he was "thinking too much instead of throwing" when he walked Angels leadoff hitter Chone Figgins on four pitches.
"I get nervous for every start. I still have those first-inning jitters, they were just a little bit more intense today," he said. "I felt fine after the first couple of innings."
Buchholz gave up three earned runs and eight hits and struck out five.
Francona was impressed that Buchholz kept his poise in the first. With one out and Figgins aboard, Vladimir Guerrero hit a line drive to right field that J.D. Drew misplayed for an error, and Garret Anderson had an RBI grounder.
"He's got four good pitches," Francona said. "He did a pretty good job."
Mirabelli hurt himself running the bases, limped across home plate and headed straight to the clubhouse. Jason Varitek, Boston's top catcher, took over for Mirabelli.
Papelbon relieved in the eighth with two runners on and retired pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis to fly out.
Lackey lasted just four innings, his shortest outing of the season. He had won three straight starts overall, but fell to 1-6 lifetime against Boston, and 1-4 at Fenway Park.
"My good pitches were hit and the bad ones were hit even harder," Lackey said.
"I was surprised when they asked me to pitch the day game. I would have preferred to pitch the night game," he said.
Lackey stayed in the game after Boston's opening burst. In the fourth, Drew hit a single to right field and Guerrero tried to throw out Kevin Youkilis at third base. Instead, the ball hit Youkilis and caromed out of play, and he was awarded home plate.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Lackey had trouble finishing off hitters in the first.
"He just didn't seem like he was where he needed to be for the first couple of innings, threw a lot of pitches," Scioscia said.
The Angels got to Buchholz in the fifth with consecutive singles by Figgins, Orlando Cabrera, Guerrero and Anderson. That made it 7-3 and with two on, Gary Matthews Jr. lined into an inning-ending double play.
Pedroia homered in the eighth off Greg Jones.
Scioscia said Buchholz "has got great stuff."
"With a little refining, this guy looks like he's going to be good for a long time," Scioscia said. "Very impressed with his changeup, got life on his fastball."
Buchholz plans to "stay on track" at Pawtucket, and hope for a September callup.
"No words can really describe it," he said of the experience. "It's a once in a lifetime experience."
- Buchholz was the 42nd player selected in the 2005 draft. The Red Sox got him with an extra pick they received after Pedro Martinez signed with the New York Mets.
- Ortiz has hit 20 homers in six straight seasons.
- Boston's seven hits in the first matches its most in an inning this season.