BOSTON — David Price gave a pitching performance expected of a Red Sox starter.
The southpaw threw seven shutout innings and allowed three hits with seven strikeouts in the Red Sox’ 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday before 36,023 at Fenway Park.
Orioles lefty starter John Means picked up the loss despite giving up one run on five hits through five innings with three strikeouts and a walk.
“I felt OK just going out there and making pitches and had good things happen with two outs,” said Price. “Good things happen when you throw good pitches with timely hitting.”
Price picked up his first win (1-1) in three starts and went deeper into the game than any Red Sox starter this season. Price dropped his ERA from 6.00 to 3.79 and was able to avoid the multi-run innings and the long ball that limited him to six innings in his previous starts at Oakland and Arizona.
“If you take a look at his starts, his stuff has been there,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Stuff wise he is way ahead where he was last year at this point and everybody knew where we were pitching-wise today.
“For him to go seven and give the ball to the last two guys was very important to us.”
The Red Sox removed a little of the drama with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez reached on singles and shortstop Xander Bogaerts brought them home with a homer to the center field bleachers. Bogaerts drove in all of the Red Sox’ runs.
“We’ve been looking for that for a while and it gave us some breathing room,” said Cora. “Mookie did a good job with two strikes going the other way and J.D. put some good swings and with Xander, it was a hanging slider if I’m not mistaken.
“We haven’t done that the whole season. It was good to see it.”
Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier pitched out of a first-and-third jam in the eighth. Closer Matt Barnes preserved the shutout despite putting runners at second and third with two outs.
“Brasier was out there in a one-run game and Barnes got a little cushion and didn’t allow any runs and that was big for us,” said Price. “You got to eat up as many innings as possible and we put up zeros today and that was big for us.”
After retiring 10 batters through three innings, Price encountered adversity that was not of his making. Right fielder Joey Rickard opened the fourth with a hard grounder down the third base line.
Rafael Devers was handcuffed on the play and his throw to first sailed into the photographers’ pen at the side of the Red Sox’ dugout. Price exited unscathed when Trey Mancini struck out, Rickard was gunned down trying to steal third and Renato Nunez went down swinging.
The Red Sox picked up one in the fourth that could have yielded more runs. Steve Pearce opened the inning with a single to right and went to third on a wall double by Martinez. Bogaerts hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Pearce.
The teams are scheduled to finish their series with today’s traditional 11 a.m. Patriots Day game.