Dempster able to take it easy

BOSTON -- Ryan Dempster’s first inning Tuesday night saw him throw 20 pitches, just nine of which were strikes and one of which hit Texas Rangers outfielder David Murphy between the shoulder blades.

However, Dempster escaped a two-on, one-out jam, and the offensive support soon followed. So, too, did Dempster’s efficiency.

The veteran right-hander allowed three runs in seven solid innings in Boston’s 17-5 rout of the Rangers, recording his first win at home in well over a month and posting his second straight strong outing since a recent slump.

Dempster (3-6, 4.39 ERA) acknowledged that it was easier to focus on the task at hand after all the work the offense did to give him a lead, which grew to 9-0 after just three innings.

“Anytime you get 17 runs, you can win with that,” he said. “It was just fun to watch the guys swing the bat as well as they did today. Just kind of sit back and try to do my job, throw strikes, make pitches and try to get outs. When you have breathing room like that, it is nice because you kind of put it in the zone a lot and try to get quick outs.”

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia also took note of the ease with which pitchers can go about their business on nights like this, but he stressed that Dempster did well to manage a lineup that can do some damage, even without injured stars Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre.

“Our approach was we’re not going to give in,” said Saltalamacchia, who contributed a double, home run and three RBIs. “Even if you’ve got a 12-run lead, we’re not going to change our approach. You’ve still got to pitch. I thought he threw great. He missed his spot on a couple of pitches, but all in all he made the pitches when he needed to. Threw a lot of fastballs tonight, kept the hitters off-balance with some off-speed pitches, but we went with a lot of fastballs.”

The three runs Dempster gave up came on two home runs, a two-run shot by Jeff Baker in the fourth and a leadoff blast by Nelson Cruz in the sixth. Both came on sliders, Dempster said. Aside from that, there were few issues.

When he is at his best, Dempster limits the hits (there were five against him), keeps the walks to a minimum (just one Tuesday) and produces his fair share of strikeouts (he fanned six). Excluding a three-start plunge in the middle of last month -- a slump that garnered some extra side work and a renewed confidence on the part of Dempster -- he has a tidy 3.00 ERA.

Dempster was a relative afterthought on a night when the Sox did some special things with their bats. But to a man, they acknowledged that nights like this do not come around all that often. Having Dempster do his thing for the second straight time may actually be one of the more positive results.