Daisuke Matsuzaka's final rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket was not his sharpest.
Matsuzaka allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits while throwing 99 pitches over 5 2/3 innings in the PawSox's 8-4 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He struck out eight without walking a batter in his third International League outing.
"The only thing that I can really be satisfied with is the fact that I'm healthy," Matsuzaka told the Providence Journal.
Staked to a 2-0 lead in the second, the 29-year-old right-hander gave up a two-out triple in the bottom of the frame to Dewayne Wise, who raced home on a passed ball. After striking out five straight IronPigs, Matsuzaka surrendered a one-out homer to Dane Sardinha on a 3-1 pitch in the fifth that lifted Lehigh Valley within 4-2.
"In the first three innings, they were getting little hits here and there," Matsuzaka said. "I went out in the fourth inning, the heart of their order came up, and I wanted to do my best not to let those guys get on base."
Rich Thompson led off the sixth with a double and Andy Tracy was hit by a pitch with one out. Matsuzaka struck out Cody Ransom but uncorked a wild pitch and surrendered a two-run single to Wise.
Robert Manuel came on to retire Luis Maza, closing the book on Matsuzaka, who threw 66 pitches for strikes.
The Red Sox had said they wanted to see Matsuzaka throw around 95 pitches in a game before bringing him back to Fenway Park. After reaching 86 pitches and declaring himself "ready" after his second rehab start, he appeared to run out of gas in the sixth inning against Lehigh Valley.
The overall numbers at Triple-A are encouraging: Matsuzaka has a 1.62 ERA, 13 strikeouts and just one walk over 16 2/3 innings.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.