BOSTON -- Rubby De La Rosa is still learning the nuances of being a consistent pitcher every fifth day. But that doesn't mean he can't turn in dominant performances at this stage of his development.
For the second time in his two starts at Fenway Park this season, De La Rosa was nearly untouchable. With his margin for error at zero, the righty led the Red Sox to a 1-0 victory over the Twins on Monday night.
The masterpiece included seven innings of one-hit ball in which De La Rosa walked three and struck out three. In his Fenway debut as a starter on May 31, De La Rosa fired seven shutout frames against the Rays.
With his latest effort, De La Rosa became the first pitcher to not surrender a run in his first two Fenway starts since Felix Hernandez, who pulled it off for the Mariners on April 11, 2007, and June 6, 2008.
"I feel comfortable," said De La Rosa. "I feel like home."
It was the third straight day the Boston bats struggled to produce. But this time, the pitching staff was dominant enough to end a two-game skid.
In the eighth, Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop worked in tandem to preserve the lead. Miller opened by striking out Oswlado Arcia.
Manager John Farrell then turned it over to his sinkerball specialist, who has been marvelous of late.
Badenhop got in a jam, but ultimately got himself right out of it.
Kurt Suzuki started the rally with a single. Sam Fuld belted a two-out double to put runners on second and third. Danny Santana was hit by a pitch to load them up.
But Badenhop struck out Brian Dozier, eliciting roars from the Fenway faithful.
"I got down 0-2 quick and you can't do that," said Dozier. "But even looking back at the pitch tracker, he made good pitches. He left one hanging breaking ball, but it was up and in and not over the plate. And then he doubled up on the slider on the black."
On a night Farrell wasn't going to use primary setup man Junichi Tazawa, he had no hesitation to turn it over to Badenhop, who extended his career-best scoreless streak to 15 2/3 innings.
"That's not necessarily why I'm here, but at the same point, when we've got Taz who's thrown a million innings out there and he wasn't available today, a guy like myself needs to be able to step in and do things, and that's the fluidity of the bullpen," said Badenhop. "You have to have guys who can do that."
For a while, it was uncertain if De La Rosa's brilliance would be enough.
The Red Sox broke the stalemate in the fifth. Daniel Nava started it with an opposite-field single that stayed just fair down the line in left. Stephen Drew ripped a single to left, moving Nava to third. However, Drew was thrown out trying to advance to second. A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly to left made it a 1-0 game.
"I think everybody is grinding," said Drew. "That's how baseball is. Hopefully we start picking it up here. Like I said, it's just a great win. I was thankful to be able to get some hits right there."
One of the few jams De La Rosa got into was in the first, but he worked around two walks by inducing Josh Willingham into an inning-ending double play.
The Red Sox cut down a run at the plate in the third. After Santana hit a single to center, he got hung up in a rundown between first and second. Fuld then strayed off third, and he was caught in a rundown as well, with first baseman Mike Napoli ultimately throwing him out at home.
"We played very good defense all the way around, particularly on that play where Jackie [Bradley Jr.] hits the cutoff man," said Farrell. "Nap is in position. The key play or the key position in that play is [Dustin Pedroia] going backdoor to insure we've got a chance to initiate a rundown from first and second. And then we were able to cut down the run at third. We're looking at a first-and-third situation and it turns out for us to get an out and then Rubby did the rest. Jackie's throwing arm is clearly a weapon. I think overall our defense is very good, especially Stephen at short tonight."
As for De La Rosa, the key to his development will be his increased trust in his fastball command.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a guy throw 99 mph who throws more offspeed than fastballs," said Dozier. "But we knew that coming in. He loves his changeup. He throws his changeup on 3-2 [counts] 90 percent of the time and he did that to us, so he stayed true."
And the Red Sox did just enough to win.
"No one ever likes those 1-0 losses," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "You start to wonder about what you could've done different. But they pitched well and pitched out of a couple jams. So did we but they unfortunately got one early."