WASHINGTON - Despite giving up four runs on four hits, including a pair of home runs, in Tuesday’s 8-7 victory over the Nationals, Clay Buchholz came away encouraged after the exhibition finale for both teams before a crowd of 30,568 at Nationals Park.
“That’s the best I’ve felt all spring,’’ said Buchholz, who recorded five strikeouts and no walks in 5 2/3 innings, throwing 67 pitches (45 strikes). “I watched videos of the two home runs that I gave up and both of them were pretty good pitches, but they got some good wood on them and they went out.
“Other than that, I felt like my tempo, which I had been trying to work on the last couple of outings, was a lot better.’’
Buchholz was perfect through four innings, retiring 12 consecutive batters on 40 pitches before giving up his first hit, a leadoff single to right by Adam LaRoche in the fifth.
“A lot of strikes and no walks was a big thing,’’ Buchholz said. “One big thing I’ve tried to cut down on is walks and I think I’ve done that for the most part the whole spring training.’’
Buchholz gave up a three-run homer to catcher Wilson Ramos, which trimmed Boston’s lead to 6-3, then gave up a homer to leadoff hitter Ian Desmond in the sixth before ending his day with a strikeout of Ryan Zimmerman.
“You know he was perfect through four and had a long inning, sat down and lost his concentration a little, I think,’’ said Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
“He threw a few center-cuts, but his stuff was very good. I think after four he realized he was ready. He got his work in. His curveball today, his fastball, his changeup were all very, very good.’’
Buchholz, who was limited to 14 starts last season because of a back injury, said he felt physically ready to start the season.
He will make his first start Sunday in Detroit.
“The last inning out, I felt like I was throwing harder than I was at the beginning of the game,’’ Buchholz said. “So it let me know that my legs were still underneath me and all the shoulder work and core work is paying off right now.’’
Repko shows his stuff
Jason Repko, who is fighting for a spot on the 25-man roster, drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single to right in the ninth, then nailed Ramos at the plate with a dart from center field to catcher Dan Butler for the game-ending out.
“He’s absolutely been in the mix from the beginning,’’ said Valentine. “Today he gets a big hit in the game and, in a big stadium, he makes a perfect throw. He’s only done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s a good player.’’
After the game, Repko packed his belongings but was not certain where he was headed: Detroit or Pawtucket.
“I’ve been around the game a long time and I’ve learned not to worry about things I can’t control,’’ said Repko, who came to camp as a non-roster invitee.
Valentine confirmed No. 2 starter Josh Beckett spent Tuesday in Cleveland getting a second opinion on his right thumb. Beckett is expected to make his first start of the 2012 campaign Saturday in Detroit . . . Daniel Nava, who was listed as an extra player on the Sox travel roster, greeted Ryan Mattheus with a leadoff homer in the eighth that tied it, 7-7. It was his first homer of the spring . . . Almost as impressive as Repko’s throw was Butler’s block of Ramos. “For the catcher to block the plate, catch that ball, and make the tag, that was pretty nice,’’ Repko said.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.