Tough-luck Porcello keeps rotation humming

Regrouping after 2 rough outings, Red Sox starter goes 8 innings without offensive support

Tough-luck Porcello keeps rotation humming

BOSTON -- There won't be too many times when Rick Porcello gives the Red Sox eight innings and loses. But that was the case on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, though the righty clearly deserved a better fate.

After successive rocky outings, Porcello bounced back in a big way in a 2-0 loss to the Twins in Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader.

Porcello limited Minnesota to two runs and five hits. He walked none and struck out five. After giving up two runs in the second, Porcello was nearly untouchable over his final six innings.

"I didn't walk anybody, and I did a better job of staying out of the middle of the plate," said Porcello after his team finished with a twin bill split against Minnesota. "I didn't give up the home runs that really hurt me the last time out, and the walks. That was the difference."

The Red Sox, meanwhile, were stifled by Trevor May, who didn't allow a hit after the third inning.

May's terrific scoreless start

But Porcello's strong outing was still a storyline the Red Sox welcomed, even if it didn't come in a win.

In the first three games of this four-game series, Boston starters have allowed three runs over 23 innings.

The rotation has clearly jelled under new pitching coach Carl Willis, posting a 3.29 ERA and a .224 opposing batting average since May 13. In 16 of those 21 games, Boston starters have allowed two earned runs or fewer.

"Everybody is throwing the ball well -- honestly, not including myself, the past two weeks," said Porcello. "So I'm glad to contribute tonight in a positive way. We need to keep doing that to provide some stability for our offense."

This was the second time Porcello has gone eight innings in a start this season. The first was in the home opener against the Nationals.

Farrell on Red Sox's 2-0 loss

"Eight quality innings," said manager John Farrell. "In the second inning, he left a couple of pitches up that they were able to bunch together with a walk for their two runs. Like I said, he became much more efficient as he went. The most encouraging thing, I thought, was in the middle innings and later innings; his two-seamer was in the right part of the zone, down.

"He put the ball on the ground a number of times. We just couldn't get anything going offensively. Rick certainly gave us an opportunity tonight."

In Porcello's first 11 starts with the Red Sox, he is 4-5 with a 5.01 ERA. His six quality starts are second on the staff to Clay Buchholz.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.