BOSTON -- Even when it's been less than great, it's been good enough every time out for Clay Buchholz this season. But Saturday wasn't without danger -- on several fronts.
The Red Sox right-hander kept his perfect record intact, taking the win in the Boston Red Sox's 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to split Saturday's doubleheader. With his ninth victory on the season, Buchholz is now tied with the St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin for the major league lead.
However, Buchholz departed the game after 6 2/3 innings with what was announced by the team as "neck tightness," following a second trip to the mound by manager John Farrell and the Red Sox training staff.
Buchholz surrendered two earned runs on six hits while striking out four and walking one. But his outing was fraught with brushes with danger, looming near at seemingly every turn.
To end the fourth inning, Buchholz nearly botched an unassisted putout at the first-base bag. After botching the bounding ball at his feet, Buchholz recovered just in time to slap a tag on the thigh of Alberto Callaspo.
His outing got a little rougher in the sixth, as Howie Kendrick lined a base hit up the middle and off of Buchholz's left arm. Eschewing his glove, Buchholz tried tracking down the ball on the infield grass behind the mound and threw to first, but to no avail.
It was at that time Buchholz was first visited at the mound, but he quickly returned to toe the rubber, indicating he was fine.
Buchholz gave way to Craig Breslow with two outs in the seventh after a fielder's choice groundout by Erick Aybar. With 104 pitches under Buchholz's belt, Farrell again made his way to the mound with trainer in tow, this time putting an end to Buchholz's evening.
It was only the second time in 12 starts this season that Buchholz failed to complete at least seven innings -- with the previous exception coming in Sunday's rain-shortened win at Yankee Stadium.
ANOTHER CRISIS AVERTED? Less than one full inning into Shane Victorino's return from the disabled list, the Red Sox outfielder looked as though he might be headed back on the shelf.
Victorino was inserted into the lineup, playing center field and leading off in his first game back. After lining a leadoff single to left off of Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, Victorino scored on Jonny Gomes' wall-ball double to left-center. He came around to score with a head-first dive into home plate.
Victorino then kept running straight into the Red Sox dugout and down the ramp toward the clubhouse, followed by members of the team's training staff. He appeared to be grimacing while rounding third.
Later on, in the fourth, Victorino exhibited that his hamstring injury was no worse for the wear, however, tracking down a deep fly off the bat of Howie Kendrick into the triangle with an over-the-shoulder catch.
Victorino was 1-for-5 with a run scored.
EARLY AND OFTEN: While Sox hitters stumbled in Game 1 of the doubleheader, leaving 14 runners on base during the afternoon, the nightcap started swimmingly. They pounced on Wilson, starting with Victorino's leadoff single, scoring two runs -- with Gomes and Dustin Pedroia going back-to-back with RBI doubles -- and loading the bases in the first. David Ortiz also capped a two-out rally in the second with an RBI double to left. Ortiz would later add his 12th home run of the season.
Still, even with the early evening fireworks, the Red Sox stranded 23 runners combined during the twin bill.
STREAKING: Jose Iglesias extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an infield hit off Jerome Williams to start the home half of the sixth. He then put his speed to use, burning around the basepaths, advancing on a Mark Trumbo error on an attempted pick-off play, a steal of third and finally scoring on Pedroia's two-out single to right.
Iglesias later stole his second base of the game after singling in the seventh.