Clay Buchholz is waiting.
So are Red Sox fans.
Buchholz (3-0) reminded everyone, again, of his overpowering arsenal by taking a perfect game into the ninth inning as Pawtucket blanked Louisville, 3-0, on Memorial Day.
The Red Sox prospect set down the first 24 batters he faced before Danny Richar's leadoff single down the left-field line broke up his bid for his second career no-hitter and first perfect game. He wrapped up the ninth with relative ease, striking out Michael Griffin, Brian Peterson and getting Norris Hopper to bounce into a force play for the first Pawtucket one-hitter since Bartolo Colon's combined gem on April 3, 2008.
Buchholz was in the zone at Louisville Slugger Park -- he struck out seven and did not walk a batter in 96 pitches. It was the first complete game for Pawtucket (24-19) this season.
The 24-year-old has posted unreal numbers this season as he awaits the call back to Fenway. He's allowed just three earned runs in his last 33 2/3 innings and held opponents to three hits or fewer in six of his eight starts for the Sox.
The former Futures Game All-Star only allowed one hit over seven innings to Colorado Springs on May 8 and declared himself ready for a return to Boston.
"I'm not really sure what it will take to get back to the Majors," Buchholz said that day. "I feel like I'm really in my prime right now."
He remained with Pawtucket, however, and struck out a season-high 11 over eight shutout frames in his ensuing start on May 13 at Toledo.
Buchholz threw 70 strikes Monday, inducing a dozen ground balls and eight flies. He lowered his ERA to 1.30, the second-best in the International League behind recently promoted Braves prospect Kris Medlen (1.19).
Buchholz, who recorded his second career Minor League complete game, has struck out 50 in 48 1/3 innings this season.
Second baseman Travis Denker saved the perfect game in the seventh when he robbed Hopper of a leadoff single up the middle. An inning later, Danny Dorn lined a one-out pitch to left that narrowly missed the foul line. Buchholz responded by striking out Dorn swinging.
Dusty Brown and Paul McAnulty hit back-to-back homers in the sixth to give Buchholz a cushion.
The Nederland, Texas native memorably threw the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history in just his second Major League start on Sept. 1, 2007 against the Orioles at Fenway Park. Despite the instant success, the former first-round pick split the 2008 season between Boston, Pawtucket and a pair of outings with Double-A Portland. He struggled in the Majors, going 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA in 16 games, but fared much better with the PawSox, where he was 4-2 with a 2.47 ERA in nine starts.
Buchholz's no-hitter would have been the 10th in Pawtucket history -- Bronson Arroyo authored the last PawSox no-no in 2003.