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Clay Buchholz pitched seven shutout innings Monday, striking out eight Orioles at Fenway Park.
Tuesday April 9, 2013

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are making what they hope will be a clean break from 2012’s team that won only 69 games.

Most of the talk around the team has concerned the new players in the clubhouse and the "new attitude" many of them bring. What could make this team successful is how the pitchers at the top of the Boston rotation perform. So far, that’s been a real success.

Jon Lester has won his first two starts and has given up two earned runs in 12 innings of work. Then on Monday, Clay Buchholz backed Lester up with seven innings of shutout baseball in a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"He had very good stuff today," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Monday’s starter. "I even thought there were a number of pitches that could have gone his way. I thought [home plate umpire Ed Hickox] had a consistent but tight strike zone back there and you can’t say enough about what Clay did for us."

In seven innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his earned-run average to 0.64. He now has 12 strikeouts in 14 innings of work and has only given up nine hits in two games.

On Monday, Buchholz went seven innings. He walked four and struck out eight. He got one double play and pitched out of a couple of jams.

The win means when the top two pitchers in Boston’s rotation are working, the Red Sox are currently 4-0. Nobody expects that to continue all season, but for Farrell, it’s a sign of good things.

"I don’t feel any different than I did last year," said Buchholz. "There were little things that didn’t go right. It makes it easier when you have someone like Jonny going out the day before you and throwing well. It’s something to repeat off of."

The first-year manager, who worked with his top two pitchers when he was Terry Francona’s pitching coach, said their consistency before, during and after games is what has them off to this quick start in 2013.

"That goes to their routine and their work in between starts. I think spring training, we’re getting their bodies into shape, but it’s got the ability to give them some momentum going into the start of the year," said Farrell. "We saw that throughout the course of spring training.

"The biggest thing Š they don’t try to do things differently because we’re playing in stadiums with a third deck. You’re playing for keeps and they do a very good job of staying with their routine."

Farrell said that Buchholz takes control of games and isn’t afraid to shake off pitches that the catcher -- on Monday, it was David Ross -- called.

"I have a lot of confidence in all of our starters," said Ross.

Buchholz said that remaining on an even keel would be critical for him, Lester and the rest of the Boston rotation. It’s always a help when the top pitchers in a rotation are going well, and that’s the key.

"We’re going to go as far as our rotation will take us," said Farrell. "To have two guys at the front end of it starting the season as consistent as they are, it sets a very good tone. We’re very well aware we’re only seven games into it."