Another mixed bag for Dice-K


CHICAGO -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's second start was a lot like his first -- not particularly bad, but not good enough to win, either.

Matsuzaka went six innings Friday at Wrigley Field and gave up three runs -- two in the first inning -- on four hits. Since the Red Sox were shut out by Ryan Dempster, that outing wasn't nearly good enough.

One aspect of Matsuzaka's game actually regressed on Friday: his command. After walking one in his first start against Washington last weekend, he walked three Friday -- all in the first inning.

Those walks loaded the bases and Steve Clevenger's line single to left scored two runs.

"I really struggled with my command early on,'' said Matsuzaka through an interpeter. "It was probably something small that needed adjustment and it took a long time, longer than I wanted, to make the adjustment.''

Whatever the correction was, Matsuzaka seemed to find it. After a triple, hit batsman and a run-scoring single in the second inning, Matsuzaka went on to retire 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced.

"I was able to battle through and pitch,'' noted Matsuzaka, "so I'd say that was a step up from my previous start.''

With just two starts at the big league level since coming back from last summer's Tommy John surgery, Matsuzaka is fine physically. Still, there are areas on which he needs to work.

"Throwing-wise, I'm throwing without any worries,'' he said. "But the competition aspect of pitching needed some improvement today and continues to need improvement in my upcoming starts.''

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