BOSTON -- Little Baby Buchholz may have cost her undefeated daddy a start Monday night, having inconveniently snuggled on his shoulder the other night in a way that evidently left a boo-boo on the pitcher’s collarbone.
But before Red Sox equipment manager Tom McLaughlin could request a shipment of Baby Bjorns be sent to Yawkey Way to ensure that no other uniformed parental units face similar peril, Alfredo Aceves provided a giant pacifier.
Banished to the minors just more than a month ago for seesaw inconsistency, Aceves stepped in for Clay Buchholz on Monday night and delivered just what the pediatrician ordered, six strong innings as an emergency starter in Boston’s 9-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
"Solid work for us,'' manager John Farrell said. "The key was his pace and tempo. After each pitch he got back up on the mound, and our defense felt the flow of the game. We played exceptional defense.''
Helped by three double plays and a Sox offense that ran up a 6-1 advantage in the first three innings, Aceves gave the Phillies a Pesky Pole home run by Erik Kratz in the third and nothing more.
Aceves put on his fair share of baserunners (7 hits, 3 walks). But splendid defense -- most notably by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who made an exquisite backhand stop to start a double play in the second, and by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who ran down a bases-loaded drive by Freddy Galvis in the sixth -- kept the Phillies from climbing back into this one.
"The drive to his glove side, he makes it look awfully easy but it's not,'' Farrell said of Pedroia's play. "He's got such sure hands and such confidence in them, he seemingly attacks every ground ball, whether it's short hop, long hop. I don't want to say we take it for granted, but we've seen him make so many plays like that, where he turns a one-hop smash into a double play. That's a testament of who he is.''
Pedroia has started all 52 of the Sox games this season, the most of any player in the big leagues. On Monday night, Farrell sent Pedro Ciriaco in to run for him in the sixth.
"He just got his day off,'' Mike Napoli said. "Three innings. I'm sure that's all Pedey wants.''
The Sox, meanwhile, hit early and often (15 hits) against the Phillies, their first National League opponent this season and one with whom they share a home-and-home arrangement this week, with two games in Fenway, followed by two in Philly.
Pedroia hit a Pesky Pole home run with Ellsbury aboard in the first, a drive that measured 324 feet and was the shortest home run of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It also was the second shortest home run this season, with the 319-foot P-Poler by Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis on Sunday the industry leader.
Two batters later, Napoli hit one over the Sox bullpen, a drive of 416 feet, according to the ESPN Stats crew, or 30 yards farther than Pedroia’s home run. It was the eighth home run of the season for Napoli, the third for Pedroia, who has played in all 52 Red Sox games this season, nearly all of them at an MVP-caliber level.
(Note to the Miguel Cabrera Fan Club: Save the tweets, etc. No one here has taken leave of their senses. There is a difference between “MVP” and “MVP caliber.”)
Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd, one of their top prospects, did not survive the third, when the Sox whacked five hits, including doubles by David Ortiz, Napoli and Ellsbury, who had three hits in all after Sunday afternoon's walk-off double. The lead expanded to 8-1 in the fifth on three more hits and an error by Phillies right fielder John Mayberry Jr. Phillies reliever Mike Adams, fresh off the disabled list, walked in a ninth run in the eighth.
Domonic Brown hit a two-run home run off Andrew Miller in the eighth for the Phillies, who are 24-27 and treading water in the NL East. Manager Charlie Manuel was forced to use five relievers, though he has Cliff Lee lined up to face Ryan Dempster and the Sox Tuesday night. Lee threw a three-hit shutout in his last start and has gone fewer than seven innings only twice in 10 starts.
Miller ended it by striking out Ryan Howard on three pitches, two 97 mph fastballs and a devastating slider.
The one-sided game kept Jonathan Papelbon confined to the Phillies’ bullpen on the closer's return to Boston for the first time since leaving town as a free agent after the 2011 season. The Sox, meanwhile, won their fourth straight and 10th in the last 13 games, and on Memorial Day the Sox took sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since May 8. They're a game ahead of the Yankees, 2-1 losers to their cousin Mets in Flushing.
Aceves made a quick exit after the game; a Sox official said his wife was ailing. He may not be here long; Farrell has indicated he may activate Franklin Morales on Tuesday, which could send Aceves back to Pawtucket. Bu no decisions have been made.
And Daddy Clay should return to action soon, manager John Farrell said, so the pitcher and Little Baby Buchholz should be spared the talk-show callers.