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Sports

March 19, 2013

McDonald overcome shaky 1st, Pirates beat Red Sox 4-3

BRADENTON, Fla. — James McDonald was not rattled by his rough start.

McDonald labored in the first inning, then recovered as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday.

“I got locked back in, kept my composure and finished strong,” McDonald said. “I didn’t let the game get away from me. I felt confident — every pitch, every moment out there.”

Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run single in the first. McDonald then retired 11 of 14 batters. He gave up four hits and three walks in five innings and struck out six.

This was the second game in a row that McDonald overcame a rocky first inning.

“It’s definitely correctable,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s got some weapons. With James, it’s about rhythm, pace and timing. That improved as the game went on. We’ve got to keep him working and take the cerebral part out of it.”

McDonald has a 4.19 ERA in five games with 4 strikeouts in 19 1-3 innings.

Neil Walker homered to end Clay Buchholz’s 9 1-3 inning scoreless streak and Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run drive.

Walker’s leadoff homer in the second was the only hit off Buchholz, who struck out four and walked two in five innings.

Sanchez homered in the seventh against Chris Carpenter, and Michael McKenry hit a solo drive off Oscar Villarreal in the eighth.

“He’s gone through a pretty drastic transformation from the way he pitched in the minors and in his rookie year to now,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “The last couple outings, when he puts the ball on the ground, he’s at his best. That’s when he’s most relaxed.”

After recovering from stress fracture in his back in 2011, Buchholz began last season by going 4-2 with a 7.19 ERA in his first 10 starts. He was 7-6 with a 3.45 ERA the rest of the way.

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