NEW YORK – Daisuke Matsuzaka worked a perfect ninth inning for his first major league save on Thursday as the New York Mets topped the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1.
Matsuzaka, who had made three appearances in middle relief since the Mets called him up on April 16, took his first shot as closer after Bartolo Colon’s seven-inning, one-run gem of a start and a scoreless eighth pitched by Carlos Torres and Scott Rice.
The 33-year-old right-hander retired the side in order, beginning with Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig, who lined out to right field. Daniel Descalso struck out chasing a full-count outside fastball, and pinch hitter Peter Bourjos popped out to the catcher in foul territory to end the game.
“I feel more relieved than happy (about getting my first save),” Matsuzaka said. “I thought it would be (Mets closer Kyle) Farnsworth pitching in the ninth.
“Since I came in with a lead, I knew that even if I gave up a run or two we could still win. I took the mound knowing I could be aggressive.”
After the Mets’ top choice at closer, Bobby Parnell, was sidelined in early April with a ligament tear requiring Tommy John surgery, Farnsworth won the job over Jose Valverde. New York manager Terry Collins said that Farnsworth will remain the club’s closer, with Matsuzaka available as a backup.
“I wanted to have Dice close today,” Collins said. “I wanted to put him in that situation to get him used to it. It was a good opportunity to see how Dice handles it, and he did well.
“We have to realize there’s going to be nights that someone else is going to have to close besides Farnsworth.”
“The more guys you get accustomed to pitching in the ninth inning, the better chance you’ll have.”
He added: “I think the more (Matsuzaka) is out there, the more confident he’s going to become.”
Matsuzaka’s only regular-season save in Japan came on May 9, 2000, during the second of his eight years with the Seibu Lions.
Reds 2, Pirates 1
In Pittsburgh, Ryan Ludwick lined a two-run double after two Cincinnati batters were hit by pitches, lifting Tony Cingrani and the Reds over the Pirates.
Cincinnati won for the seventh time in nine games and reached .500 at 11-11.
Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 2
In Chicago, Mike Bolsinger earned his first major league win, pitching into the seventh inning and hitting an RBI single as Arizona beat the Cubs.
Padres 4, Nationals 3 (12)
In Washington, former Nationals outfielder Xavier Nady’s tiebreaking RBI single off Craig Stammen in the top of the 12th, right after an error let the runner get to third base, gave San Diego a win over the Nationals.
Phillies 7, Dodgers 3
In Los Angeles, Carlos Ruiz hit a tiebreaking two-run double off Brian Wilson in the ninth inning, Marlon Byrd drove in four runs and Philadelphia beat the Dodgers.
Adrian Gonzalez — whose fielding error in the fifth led to two runs — had tied the game 3-3 in the seventh before the Phillies scored four in the ninth.
Tigers 7, White Sox 4
In Detroit, Miguel Cabrera drove in three runs and Max Scherzer struck out 10 batters as the Tigers beat Chicago.
Twins 9, Rays 7
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer and Kurt Suzuki drove in three runs as Minnesota beat Tampa Bay.
Indians 5, Royals 1
In Cleveland, Corey Kluber struck out a career-high 11 batters and pitched a four-hitter for his first complete game, and David Murphy and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs apiece, leading the Indians over Kansas City.
The Royals’ Norichika Aoki was 0-for-4.
Yankees 14, Red Sox 5
In Boston, Yangervis Solarte drove in four runs, Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the season and New York capitalized on five Red Sox errors to pound the hosts.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia (3-2) struck out eight while allowing two runs on three hits in six innings.
Orioles 11, Blue Jays 4
In Toronto, Chris Davis had two hits and three RBIs, Jonathan Schoop homered and Baltimore beat the Blue Jays.
Athletics 10, Astros 1
In Houston, Josh Donaldson hit a pair of two-run homers to help Oakland cruise to a win over the Astros.