What do you get the Red Sox manager who seems to have it all?
A box of cigars? A case of champagne? A gift card?
Dustin Pedroia seemed to come up with the perfect solution after the Red Sox delievered their manager the perfect gift on his 51st birthday: a 4-0 shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,611.
"Just try to keep winning for him,’’ said the Sox second baseman, who went 1 for 3 with an RBI double. The was part of a two-run fifth that broke a scoreless stalemate, 2-0.
"That’s it,’’ Pedroia said. "We don’t want to give him too many gray hairs. We got 12 walkoffs, or whatever it is. We should not make it too scary for him.’’
Unlike the first two games of the three-game sweep over the Mariners, which the Sox won with walkoffs to give them a league-leading 11 for the season, there was no reason to chomp fingernails down to the nub in the finale of this three-game interleague set against the Diamondbacks.
Felix Doubront delivered a gem when he threw seven shutout innings -- which Farrell described as "workmanlike" -- allowing just five hits and no walks while striking out five. Tightness in his right oblique hastened the lefthander's departure after going seven innings and throwing 95 pitches.
"Is it his birthday?'' Doubront asked afterward, unaware Farrell had turned 51 Sunday, sharing the same exact birth date and year as Roger Clemens. ``Well, Happy Birthday. We won.''
The Red Sox scored a pair of runs in the fifth and tacked on two more in the sixth to give Doubront all the runs he would need to 8-5 overall. It marked the 19th time in his last 20 starts Doubront had allowed three earned runs or fewer.
"First-pitch strikes were a little elusive, but he was able to go to a breaking ball or changeup to get the timing back in his delivery and still maintain a lot of efficiency,'' Farrell said of Doubront. "He had a couple of key double plays that he was able to get. Had a number of fastballs that they chased up for some strikeouts. It was kind of a workmanlike, solid seven shutout innings for him.''
It was a workmanlike effort, overall, by the Red Sox, who wrapped up a 5-2 homestand by recording their major league-leading 23d series win of the season.
The Sox, who are now a season-high 23 games over .500 (68-45) and control a one-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, will embark on a 10-game, 11-day trip to Houston, Kansas City and Toronto, marking their longest of the season. The Sox will play 16 of their next 19 on the road, with a three-game weekend series against the Yankees Aug. 16-18 as their only home appearance during that stretch.
"Our guys recognize that there’s maybe a greater intensity, a greater level of energy that this crowd is creating,’’ Farrell said. "Whether that coincides with the way we are playing, or some of the late games, late wins we’ve been able to nail down, this was a good homestand.’’
In other news:
* Farrell announced before the game that righthanded knuckleballer Steven Wright (2-0, 3.65 ERA) will make his first career start Tuesday night in Houston. "The reason being is that we're just trying to get guys an extra day of rest this time through,'' Farrell said. "It's more just that time of the year and managing some overall rest.''
* Clay Buchholz, on the DL since June 9 with a neck strain, did some ``pretty intensive'' long toss and flat-ground work before Sunday's game and felt he was close to getting back to doing work off the mound. ``The last two days have been really good days for me,'' Buchholz said. "So, moving forward, we'll try to map out what I can start doing and throw a little bit more to get the rhythm back to it.''