BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz continued his mastery of the Houston Astros -- and his recent dominance against everyone -- by firing a gem on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, leading the Red Sox to a 6-1 victory.
The righty went the distance for his ninth career complete game and was one strike away from a shutout.
"If I'm out there, I might as well try to get it," said Buchholz. "Just needed a strike called or a backdoor cutter. Didn't get it, but it is what it is. Complete game is a complete game. Shutouts are a little different, but it's pretty hard to do."
In three starts against the Astros over the past two seasons, Buchholz has allowed three runs over 25 innings. The win pushed Buchholz (7-6) above .500 for the first time since April 11. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are 6-2 in their last eight games.
Astros righty Collin McHugh (9-4) allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) over 5 1/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Buchholz magnificent: Buchholz continues to pitch like it is 2013 again. The righty has allowed one run or fewer in his last four starts, and in five of his last seven. Over his last 11 starts, Buchholz has trimmed his ERA from 6.03 to 3.27.
"I'm prepared to pitch nine innings every time I go out. Sometimes it just doesn't happen," said Buchholz. "But as far as staying healthy and how my body feels probably, I'm probably in the best shape of my life." More >
McHugh's three-game streak ends: McHugh had righted the ship in his up-and-down season by allowing only six runs over 22 innings before struggling with command against the Red Sox.
"If you can give up one run an inning, I think you feel pretty good about yourself, but you just don't want to do it four times in a [game] like I did today," McHugh said. More >
Killer B's:Mookie Betts shook off his ill-advised attempted steal of third in Friday's loss by going 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly. Xander Bogaerts continued his push for a spot on the American League All-Star team with two hits and two RBIs. The shortstop is hitting .302.
"Well, the one thing that's been extremely encouraging is the way our young players have continued to grow, have continued to perform and produce," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Both guys that you mentioned, Mookie and Xander, particularly with men in scoring position, they're taking what the opposing pitcher is giving them, putting good swings on balls, and using the whole field."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last Red Sox pitcher to fire a complete game on the Fourth of July was Paul Quantrill in 1993. The last to do it Fenway on Independence Day was Mike Torrez in 1979.
PANDA GOES OVER RAILING
Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval never gave up on Preston Tucker's foul popup in the top of the fourth, leaning over the railing and then winding up in the Astros dugout while making a tremendous catch. More >
"That was a big man going over a small railing. He's a good player. Pablo knows he can play baseball. He's pretty confident with both sides of his game." -- Buchholz, on the fourth-inning catch
"He pounded the strike zone with a couple of different pitches. He had a really good changeup and a really good cutter. This game was almost entirely about him. They were opportunistic on a couple of extra outs we gave them and extra base runners, but he was a tough pitcher today. That's a good effort by him." -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch, on Buchholz's performance
Hinch asked the umpires to review a play at first base in the eighth inning in which Alejandro De Aza slid headfirst at first base to beat Jon Singleton to the bag. De Aza was called safe in a close play, and the call was upheld after only 29 seconds of reviewing.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Rookie right-hander Lance McCullers (4-2, 2.19 ERA) makes his 10th career start in Sunday's 12:35 p.m. CT finale at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. He posted a 2.11 ERA in June, which was the lowest ERA by an Astros rookie during that month since Darryl Kile's 1.80 ERA in 1991.
Red Sox: Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.92 ERA) will try to build off the strong start he had in Toronto last time out, when he gave up four hits and a run over six innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET.