Salem, VA (April 23, 2012) - Making his first rehab start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June, Daisuke Matsuzaka surrendered a pair of leadoff homers and allowed three runs on six hits over four innings in Salem's 7-2 setback to Wilmington on Monday evening at LewisGale Field. Playing amidst a stiff breeze blowing out to left and chilly, mid-40 degree temperatures, Matsuzaka yielded three hits and two runs during a 27-pitch first inning, but then found a groove and needed just 31 more pitches to traverse the next three frames, permitting only a solo homer in the second. He tossed 41 of his 58 pitches for strikes and departed, as expected, following four innings on the mound, striking out three and walking none.
Whit Merrifield led off the first with a solo shot and Geulin Beltre launched a solo blast to begin the second for Wilmington, who entered the game with only two homers as a team through their first 15 games. In the top of the eighth, Brett Eibner crushed the Blue Rocks' third bomb of the day, another leadoff dinger off Salem reliever Ryan Pressly. Cheslor Cuthbert finished with four hits and three RBI, driving in Merrifield three different times. Merrifield scored four runs in the game.
Salem put men on base in each of the first five innings against Wilmington starter Jason Adam, but the Sox could not convert on any opportunity. Salem stranded the bases loaded in the second and Adam tossed five scoreless innings to earn his first victory of the season. In 22.2 innings pitched, Adam has surrendered just one earned run for an infinitesimal ERA of 0.40.
The Blue Rocks bullpen picked up right where Adam left off, with Sam Runion dealing two shutout frames and John Keck working a clean sheet in the eighth before the Sox finally scored with two outs already recorded in the ninth against Chase Boruff. Down to his final strike, Brandon Jacobs smashed a two-run double off the wall in left-center, breaking up Wilmington's shutout bid. But the victory still went the way of the Rocks, who improved to 8-8 while slipping the Sox to 7-8.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Shannon Wilkerson each reached base three times with two singles and a walk to lead Salem, while Cuthbert's four-for-five night and Merrifield's three-hit, four-run explosion paced Wilmington.
Xander Bogaerts drew a one-out walk in the eighth, but went 0-for-4, snapping his hitting streak at nine games. His consecutive games on base streak, however, extended to 12. He was on deck when Boruff struck out Travis Shaw to end the game.
The Sox and Rocks continue their four-game series on Tuesday, with Keith Couch slated to face Yordano Ventura. First pitch at LewisGale Field is scheduled for 7:05.