Buchholz exits with tight neck, gets to 9-0

Clay Buchholz remained in the game after a visit from the trainer and manager John Farrell. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz left with two outs in the seventh inning in Game 2 of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels due to what the team called "neck tightness."

While Buchholz, an early-season contender for the American League Cy Young Award, was able to run his unbeaten record to 9-0 on the season in Boston's 7-2 win, peril surrounded him at seemingly every turn.

In the fourth, he went tumbling to the ground on a near-botched handling of an unassisted force-out play at first base. In the sixth, a line shot off the bat of Howie Kendrick knocked Buchholz's glove to the ground. Buchholz retrieved the ball behind the mound and attempted to get the streaking Kendrick at first to no avail. Manager John Farrell and the trainer went to the mound to check on Buchholz, but he remained in the game.

Farrell later lifted him after 104 pitches thrown over 6 2/3 innings.

After the game, Buchholz cited his "awkward" throwing motion on the Kendrick play as the source of his pain.

"It was just a little nagging there for a couple innings," Buchholz said after the Red Sox split the day-night doubleheader, which also ended a nine-game losing streak against the Angels. "You know, it was right after that ball that hit off of my glove and I threw it to first base, that's when it sort of tightened up a little bit.

"Then, you know, figured I got the double-play ball [in the seventh], didn't turn it and figured that was enough. [I] didn't want to push my luck anymore with that."

Buchholz said he had not yet met with team doctors regarding the injury, but did say he didn't believe it was linked to the irritation of the AC joint in his collarbone area. That discomfort forced him to miss a turn in the rotation and pushed back another start at the end of May.

He also didn't want to speculate whether the latest bugaboo would affect his next scheduled appearance.

"I hope not," Buchholz said. "That's definitely not what I want but I haven't even spoken to the doctors about it. They want me to cool down and then take a look at it. So, like I said before, I'm not going to push my luck, go out there and there's something nagging. I'm going to make sure it's out of the way."

With the victory, Buchholz moved into a tie with St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and Arizona's Patrick Corbin for the major league lead. He also currently leads the Majors with a 1.71 earned run average.

"Even when he gives up a leadoff double, as he did a couple of times tonight, the inning doesn't speed up on him, it doesn't turn into a multi-run inning," Farrell said. "And he's done that repeatedly, not just tonight but in a number of other starts that we've seen. And he's pitching very relaxed and very confident."

Now, Buchholz simply hopes his momentum doesn't come undone.

"You get on rolls and you've got to ride them as long as you can," he said. "When you go out there and you get hit around a little bit, you've got to respond to it and, hopefully, it doesn't happen all year, but sooner or later it does. It happens to everybody.

"Like I said, going to try and ride it as long as I can and hopefully guys keep hitting, score some runs."