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Kawakami beats countryman Dice-K as Braves dump BoSox

CBSSports.com wire reports
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BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's latest chance to stop his struggles may be his last for a while.

"If I keep going like this, I have no right to be a part of this rotation," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter after being shelled from the start in the Atlanta Braves' 8-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday.

He fell to 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA. And with John Smoltz due for his first start next Thursday after six rehab outings, Matsuzaka could be the odd man out.

"We have the ability to be a little flexible in what we do. [I] don't know if it makes a lot of sense to do something before the off day," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Matsuzaka gave up a homer on the first pitch of the game to Nate McLouth. He let the first five batters reach base, got yanked in the fifth inning, allowed six runs and lost to his less heralded countryman, Kenshin Kawakami.

Kawakami cost the Braves just $23 million for three years when he signed in January, far less than the $103 million -- $51 for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka and $52 million for a six-year contract -- that Dice-K cost the Red Sox.

Kawakami (4-6) allowed two hits and two runs in six innings, the ninth straight start in which he gave up three earned runs or less.

"He was pounding the strike zone. We had a great game plan," catcher Brian McCann said. "He rises to the occasion."

Jason Bay got both of Boston's hits off Kawakami before three relievers held the Red Sox hitless.

"A two-hitter in this ballpark, you don't see that very often," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He made good pitches."

Boston still has the AL's best home record at 23-10 but kept struggling at the plate after managing just one hit, a homer by Kevin Youkilis, in a 2-1 loss to Florida on Thursday night that ended in the top of the sixth because of rain.

Garret Anderson went 3 for 3 with four RBI as the Braves finally gave Kawakami support with seven runs while he was in the game. They had scored just 24 in his other 69 1/3 innings.

"We were swinging early," McLouth said. "I guess people had the feeling they wanted to be aggressive and we had pretty good results."

Atlanta won its second straight game since breaking a four-game losing streak with a 7-0 win at Cincinnati in which McLouth had two hits, a homer and four RBIs.

The Braves came out swinging against Matsuzaka, who usually runs up high pitch counts, and had three hits on the first four pitches -- the total amount of hits the Red Sox had Thursday and Friday.

The crowd booed.

"Everybody knows that I haven't been performing well," Matsuzaka said. "As a professional, I have to accept [it] when I get a reaction like that."

After McLouth's 12th homer this season and third in 14 games since being traded by Pittsburgh, Atlanta loaded the bases on a single by Yunel Escobar, a double by Chipper Jones and a walk to McCann. Anderson's walk made it 2-0, but Matsuzaka escaped with a strikeout and double play, extending his streak to 17 straight hitless at bats against with the bases loaded.

The Braves added two runs in the fourth on McLouth's RBI double and Escobar's run-scoring single. They made it 6-0 in the fifth on consecutive doubles by McCann and Anderson that drove Matsuzaka from the game, and a sacrifice fly by Casey Kotchman off Justin Masterson.

The Red Sox finally scored in the sixth with two outs on Bay's 18th homer, a two-run shot that gave him an AL best 65 RBI.

Anderson drove in the last two runs with a single in the seventh and a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Notes

  • Boston SS Jed Lowrie, coming back from wrist surgery, begins a rehab stint Sunday at Triple-A Pawtucket. Two weeks there "is not out of line," Francona said. "We're not going to rush him."
  • The teams have faced other in 11 of the 13 seasons since interleague play began.
  • Matsuzaka didn't reach the sixth inning for the sixth time in eight starts.
  • Derek Lowe, who won the deciding game of the Red Sox 2004 World Series sweep of St. Louis, pitches for Atlanta on Saturday night against Josh Beckett, the winner of the opening game of their 2007 World Series sweep of Colorado.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Kenshin Kawakami gives up just two hits and two runs in six innings to earn the victory.  (AP)
Kenshin Kawakami gives up just two hits and two runs in six innings to earn the victory. (AP)

Players of the Game
Boston

J. Bay
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Atlanta

G. Anderson
AB 3
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 4
 

Related Video

Atlanta Braves
Nate McLouth, CF4222112 .260
Yunel Escobar, SS5121002 .286
Chipper Jones, 3B4210101 .301
Brian McCann, C4120100 .327
Garret Anderson, DH3134100 .273
Matt Diaz, LF5010016 .276
Casey Kotchman, 1B4001006 .273
Jeff Francoeur, RF3000102 .248
Kelly Johnson, 2B2100201 .227
Totals34811872  
Batting
2B - Nate McLouth (11, Matsuzaka), Chipper Jones (11, Matsuzaka), Brian McCann (11, Matsuzaka), Garret Anderson (8, Matsuzaka)
HR - Nate McLouth (12, Matsuzaka)
SF - Garret Anderson (5), Casey Kotchman (3)
RBI - Nate McLouth 2 (42), Yunel Escobar (36), Garret Anderson 4 (23), Casey Kotchman (26)
2-OUT RBI - Nate McLouth (11), Yunel Escobar (16)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Escobar-Johnson-Kotchman
PB - Brian McCann (3)
E - Yunel Escobar (9, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Kenshin Kawakami (W,4-6) 6222351 4.42
Peter Moylan 1000020 4.91
Rafael Soriano 1000020 1.42
Mike Gonzalez 1000020 2.32
Pitches-Strikes - Kenshin Kawakami 83-48, Peter Moylan 12-9, Rafael Soriano 14-9, Mike Gonzalez 14-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kenshin Kawakami 6-7
Batters Faced - Kenshin Kawakami 23, Peter Moylan 3, Rafael Soriano 3, Mike Gonzalez 3
Boston Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia, 2B4000020 .291
J.D. Drew, RF3000111 .257
Kevin Youkilis, 1B4100011 .317
Jason Bay, LF3122110 .283
David Ortiz, DH4000032 .207
Mike Lowell, 3B3000012 .288
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF2000101 .305
Jason Varitek, C3000011 .220
Nick Green, SS3000010 .285
Totals29222311  
Batting
2B - Jason Bay (16, Kawakami)
HR - Jason Bay (18, Kawakami)
RBI - Jason Bay 2 (65)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Bay 2 (25)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Youkilis, Youkilis-Green, Lowell-Pedroia-Youkilis
E - Mike Lowell (8, Misplayed grounder)
Boston Red Sox
Daisuke Matsuzaka (L,1-5) 4866421 8.23
Justin Masterson 2.1110100 3.65
Daniel Bard 1.2100100 2.93
Takashi Saito 1111100 2.59
Pitches-Strikes - Daisuke Matsuzaka 67-39, Justin Masterson 29-21, Daniel Bard 24-13, Takashi Saito 22-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Daisuke Matsuzaka 3-6, Justin Masterson 5-2, Daniel Bard 2-2, Takashi Saito 1-2
Batters Faced - Daisuke Matsuzaka 23, Justin Masterson 9, Daniel Bard 6, Takashi Saito 5
Game Information
Attendance - 37703
Game Time - 2:49
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Gary Darling, Second Base - Bill Hohn, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman