Buchholz efficient on mound, scrappy at plate

Buchholz efficient on mound, scrappy at plate

ATLANTA -- Clay Buchholz was at his most efficient on the mound for the Red Sox in Thursday's 5-2 victory over the Braves, throwing just 92 pitches over seven innings. Perhaps just as important was that Buchholz helped prevent Braves righty Shelby Miller from being efficient.

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In a memorable at-bat in the top of the fifth, Buchholz, making his second start in a National League park this season, worked Miller for 10 pitches.

It almost didn't matter that Buchholz struck out. Miller threw 105 pitches in 5 2/3 innings.

"I thought one of the key at-bats of the game was Clay Buchholz in the fifth inning," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "It was a 10-pitch at-bat and we were able to run the pitch count up."

Buchholz, who takes pride in being a good athlete, was just trying to do his part.

"I mean, I don't get to do that very often. He got me in swing mode, and I just happened to foul some pitches off," Buchholz said. "Shelby's got some really good stuff. Facing another pitcher, all you want to do is basically throw strikes, and sometimes it's hard to do that."

Once the count was full, Buchholz fouled off four straight pitches.

"I was able to get it to a full count and fouled some good pitches off, actually fouled a few pitches off that actual hitters would be mad at themselves for just fouling it off," quipped Buchholz. "It's just one of those things. I don't get to do it very often and have to make the most of it when you get the opportunity."

Meanwhile, Buchholz's early-season struggles from the mound have become a distant memory.

Even if his record is just 4-6, Buchholz has pitched like an ace in recent weeks. Over his last eight starts, Buchholz has a 2.42 ERA. During that span, his overall ERA has gone from 6.03 to 3.87.

"Once again, seven strong innings of work in tough conditions down here," Farrell said. "He was extremely efficient. His pitch count was great. They chip away with two unearned runs in that bottom of the sixth inning. Other than that, he was in complete control of the night."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.