During his International League debut Thursday, Matt Barnes felt successful, even in the at-bats that resulted in hits.
"I was trying to make them earn first base," he said. "I just wanted to throw strikes."
The fifth-ranked Red Sox prospect struck out seven and scattered three hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings to earn the win in Triple-A Pawtucket's 2-0 victory over Syracuse. He threw 86 pitches -- 56 of them for strikes.
"I was extremely happy with the outing," said Barnes, whom Boston drafted out of the University of Connecticut in the first round in 2011. "It was exciting, coming into a new clubhouse, seeing some guys I knew and some new guys, coming to a team that's in first place and getting to the playoffs. Hopefully, I can help them out as they're looking for a championship."
The 23-year-old righty had been 5-10 with a 4.33 ERA for Double-A Portland in the Eastern League, where he'd amassed 135 strikeouts while only walking 46 in 108 innings.
Barnes worked a 1-2-3 opening frame Thursday.
"You come to a new level, there's a little bit of jitters," he said. "Obviously, you just want to go out there and perform. I was focused on pounding the zone and I was happy to have a quick first inning."
He gave up a walk and a two-out single to Chris Rahl in the second, but got out of trouble when Red Sox catcher Dan Butler caught Rahl stealing.
"It was phenomenal. Any time your catcher can pick you up like that, it's great," he said. "With guys on first and third, that was a big play, especially since we'd just scored two in the bottom half of the first."
Barnes gave up two more hits -- a fourth-inning single to Chris Marrero and a fifth-inning double by Kris Watts. Both came after Barnes started the at-bat with three consecutive balls.
"I just didn't want to give them first base," he said, adding that he tried to attack the zone so "they would get themselves out."
Although that strategy didn't work, worked out of trouble both times. He started the sixth by getting Jeff Kobernus to fly out on four pitches, and then handed the ball over to left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith.
"They told me I was going back out [for the sixth], but I didn't know to what extent," Barnes said. "I saw somebody warming up in our bullpen, getting loose when I was sitting in the dugout when we were hitting. I knew I must be kind of getting up there in pitches at that point."
Pawtucket closer Anthony Carter notched his 24th save of the season, which tied the franchise record Travis Hughes set in 2007.
No. 2 Boston prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. collected a hit and a run for the second straight day.