Atlanta left-hander Mike Minor’s ERA of 6.14 is dead last among starters in the MLB who have pitched at least one inning for every game his team has played.
BOSTON — This time, a spot starter stymied the Atlanta Braves.
Aaron Cook filled in for Clay Buchholz and pitched five effective innings in his second start of the season, leading the Red Sox to a 9-4 victory Sunday.
Boston placed Clay Buchholz on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning, and Cook allowed three runs, two earned, and six hits. Franklin Morales, making his second consecutive start in place of injured right-hander Josh Beckett, pitched six solid innings in Boston’s 8-4 victory Saturday night.
“With this game, you never know,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You wake up this morning and you say they’ve got Cook and we’ve got (Mike) Minor and you feel pretty good about yourself, and Cook wiggled out of some of his situations and we couldn’t wiggle out of ours.”
Minor (3-6) gave up just a pair of singles through three innings. But the left-hander walked Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks to begin the fourth before Cody Ross sent a 2-1 pitch into the Green Monster seats. One pitch later, Adrian Gonzalez made it 4-0 with his sixth home run of the season.
Minor has allowed 18 home runs this year, tied for the third most in the majors.
“I would say I’m a four-seam pitcher. Everything’s straight unless it’s off-speed,” Minor said. “That’s really what’s kind of weird because all the home runs have been off-speed, either changeups, curveball, slider. But they’ve all been over the plate and up.”
Cook (1-1) surrendered all three of his runs in the fifth, when Eric Hinske smacked a two-run triple and then scored on a throwing error by the pitcher.
“Cook’s a veteran guy. He knows how to do that kind of stuff,” Gonzalez said of stepping into the rotation. “I don’t think he threw a curveball until, I think, the third inning. But he had his sinker going and we hit some balls at people and they turned some double plays.”
Ross hit two homers and drove in five runs for Boston, which traded Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox following its ninth win in 11 games.
Youkilis hit an RBI triple in the seventh inning before he was replaced by Nick Punto, who gave him a hug when he came out to run for him.
The burly infielder took his helmet off and waved to the crowd, blew a kiss and was urged to come out for a curtain call by his teammates before heading down the steps. He was given a lengthy standing ovation and the fans chanted “Yook.”
The Red Sox also sent cash to the White Sox and received utilityman Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart.
Boston completed interleague play with a winning record for the eighth straight season (11-7).
Jason Heyward continued his torrid June for the Braves, hitting a solo homer among his three hits. He is hitting .391 this month with five homers and 12 RBIs.
Atlanta, which lost for the ninth time in 13 games, closed interleague play 8-10.
The Red Sox scored three times in the fifth to make it 7-3. Will Middlebrooks had a sacrifice fly and Ross followed with a two-run homer completely out of Fenway Park over the Monster.
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ throwing error on Kelly Shoppach’s grounder to open the inning paved the way for Boston’s outburst.
NOTES: Buchholz has a “gastrointestinal issue,” according to manager Bobby Valentine. … Valentine decided to give struggling DH David Ortiz (0 for 11 last three games) a day off with a left-hander starting for Atlanta. “He said he could probably use it,” Valentine said. … Former Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz was on hand working the nationally televised game and spent time pregame chatting with players in the Braves’ clubhouse. … Braves 3B Chipper Jones, who had the day off, is hitting just .189 (7 for 37) since coming off the DL on June 10. … Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure was back with the team after missing two weeks with a family matter.