BOSTON - Chris Tillman keeps beating the Red Sox and they keep working him over.
Tillman was pushed to 122 pitches in five innings in an 8-4 win over the Red Sox, who lost to him for the fourth time in five decisions since the beginning of 2013. He's posted a 2.85 ERA in that span.
"It was a struggle," he said. "I knew it was going to be a struggle from the get-go. It was a night where I was battling myself the whole time. Luckily, I was able to execute some pitches when I was in trouble and get through it."
Boston's hitters always make it a challenge by fouling off pitch after pitch.
"Always has been and I think it always will be," Tillman said. "I inflicted more pain on myself than normal. I think I was kind of shaky with the fastball command tonight, but these guys always fight until the very end. They were fouling pitches off, they were taking good pitches, taking tough pitches, and when you make a mistake they capitalize on it. It's tough."
Tillman ignored his soaring pitch count.
"I don't pay attention to it," he said. "I don't even know how many I finished with. It was probably a lot. These guys did their job. They saw a lot of pitches, and it was tough."
Brian Matusz had starter flashbacks with his 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.
"Oh, absolutely," he said. "Just being able to trot back on the field a couple times. A pretty cool feeling. It was good to put up some zeroes after Tilly, who battled, battled to get through five and kept us in that ballgame. Darren (O'Day) did a good job to finish it.
"Being able to get that experience in spring, being able to go multiple innings, it really carried over. Just to be able to have that experience to get up, sit down, get up, I think it definitely played a role.
"I think it's important to come in here and take Game 1. Be able to start out the road trip on a good note and get that W. Regardless of coming in for multiple innings or a single hitter. Go out there and get a job done. Fortunately, I was able to go out there for a couple innings and now the bullpen is semi-fresh for the next couple games."
"It feels good, especially if you win and get a W. It feels really, really good," he said.
"I'm feeling more comfortable. My teammates have helped me a lot, like Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Jim Presley, my hitting coach. They try to talk to me and tell me to be me. Because they throw me a lot of sliders, I have to change my approach and stick to my approach and learn to lay off of it. Stay aggressive."
And try to stay warm.
"It was really cold," he said. "There's never weather like that in Curacao. But you've got to deal with it and play baseball and try to win."