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At 17-7, Red Sox continue their hot start

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 28, 2013 12:17 AM

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The Red Sox are now 17-7. They have the best record in baseball and are off to their best start since 2002.

It doesn't feel like a fluke, either. The success has been built around good starting pitching, a balanced offense and solid defense.

“We’ve had a very good offensive approach, even on nights when we’ve only scored a few runs,” manager John Farrell said. “Our starting pitching has been very consistent. I think we’ve played very good defensively.

“There’s still room to improve in areas. But the fact is we’ve got three areas of the game where we’re operating pretty well right now.”

A few notes:

• Felix Doubront (3-0) allowed three runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He walked four — one after the first inning — and struck out eight. After throwing 31 pitches in the first inning, he needed only 64 over the next five.

“I don’t know what happened in the first inning. I was using more of my arm than my body. I was a little frustrated with what I was doing and thinking too much,” Doubront said.

“But after the first inning I really focused on the strike zone. I wasn’t thinking of my mechanics at all. Just throw the ball and get quick outs to go deep in the game. I’m so proud that I did that.”

• Will Middlebrooks was 2 for 3 with a walk. He is 5 of his last 11 with three extra base hits, raising his batting average from .165 to .200. He seems to be pulling out of his slump.

• David Ortiz was 2 for 3 with three RBIs. He is 14 of 27 with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs in seven games since coming off the disabled list.

“No,” Ortiz said when asked if he could explain it. “I’m just doing my thing.”

Said Farrell: “We’re all recognizing that he’s doing things that look to him to be very easy. But it’s hard to script out that he would come back and have this kind of performance given the layoff.”

• As expected, Ryan Lavarnway was optioned to Pawtucket after the game. He was here three days and did not play.

• The one sour note came in the eighth inning when Daniel Bard inherited a five-run lead and walked the first two batters on nine pitches. Farrell quickly went to Alex Wilson and the rookie held the Astros to one run.

Bard pitched well in an inning on Thursday. But this latest outing was a sign that he still has work to do to overcome the control problems that started last season.

“Right from the get-go, Daniel didn’t settle into a delivery," Farrell said. "We saw him cut a couple fastballs the first couple pitches he threw, then some pitches got away from him."

Bard wasn't close on many of his nine pitches. He seemed to be dragging his arm behind his body.

Bard is the seventh pitcher in the bullpen and could be back in the minors once Joel Hanrahan and Craig Breslow return. That would be as soon as next week. So his trials are not really a major factor.

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