BOSTON -- David Pauley dug into the Fenway Park pitchers' mound and stared down the heart of the Charlotte Knights lineup while in front of one of the largest Triple-A attendances that these two clubs will see all season.
He did it with a poise and confidence that, despite the one-day location in front of an announced Futures at Fenway doubleheader crowd exceeding 36,000, the results would be the same as usual.
In the end, he was right -- he notched yet another win.
Pauley recorded his 13th victory of the season against Charlotte on Saturday, helping Pawtucket snatch a 5-2 win in Boston and laying claim to the International League lead in wins alongside teammate Charlie Zink.
"I just wanted to come out and have a good start here," Pauley said, "show that I can pitch in an atmosphere like this."
He did just that. Pauley set the tone for his resilience early. After throwing a scoreless first and holding a 1-0 lead, Pauley allowed a double to Royce Huffman and an RBI groundout to Jason Tyner.
He wouldn't allow another run for five innings. And at that point, the PawSox enjoyed a four-run lead.
"It gives you that kind of comfort as a manager," Pawtucket skipper Ron Johnson said. "You know, I'm going to sit back here. If they get a run, we're going to score one or two more, but I think Pauley is going to keep us in the ballgame. And that's what he did."
Pauley (13-4) went seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four. He outdueled knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, who was doing his very best Tim Wakefield impression in the ballpark Wakefield has called home over the past 14 years.
The results weren't so favorable for Haeger, who pitched seven innings and scattered nine hits, but a three-run fourth proved too much for the Knights to overcome.
It started with a one-out double to right-center by Jeff Corsaletti followed by an RBI double by Gil Velazquez. After Sean Danielson walked, Jeff Bailey -- who spent time with the Red Sox earlier this year and was just as familiar with Fenway's confines as anyone on the field -- ripped a two-run double.
The trio of extra-base hits sunk Haeger's outing and gave Pauley more than enough to work with. Like a true league wins leader, he finished strong.
His manager said the performance, from the beginning of the day through the final out, was a sign of just how much composure Pauley has gained in the past two years.
"Coming into this situation, you're kind of out of your normal routine, so I watched David upstairs and he sat around for a couple hours when we got here," Johnson said. "So you have that wonderment in your mind, watching him. He's gotten to the point where he's professionalized himself."
Utilizing a deadly changeup accompanying his fastball, Pauley kept batters on edge throughout his time on the hill.
"It's the feel for the secondary stuff," Johnson said. "He's got a feel for the curveball, and the feel for the change. And that makes him dangerous against left-handed hitters. But the biggest thing with David is his composure and his ability to execute location."
After the outing -- in which the righty threw 91 pitches, 57 for strikes -- Pauley agreed.
"Everything worked well for me today," he said. "[I] kind of got behind some guys, but battled back and got some outs when I needed them."
Another Red Sox part-timer, reliever Chris Smith, took the ball in the ninth and recorded his 14th save of the season at the Triple-A level. Squashed in between the two was Hunter Jones, who pitched equally strong in one inning of work to get the hold. Between the two relievers, Charlotte mustered only two hits and no runs.
But this day belonged to Pauley, who, over the course of his past 10 starts, is pitching at the top of his game -- a 5-2 mark with a 2.67 ERA.
There's no doubt in his mind that he's got the ability to compete on fields like Fenway Park on a regular basis, not just once a summer.
"I think, at this time, my confidence is up," Pauley said. "And I think I can pitch at this level and have success."