BOSTON — Felix Doubront didn’t wish his manager a happy birthday on Sunday.
That’s about the only thing he did wrong all afternoon.
Doubront pitched seven shutout innings and Jacoby Ellsbury drove in two runs as the Red Sox finished off a strong homestand with a 4-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It’s his birthday?” Doubront asked members of the media with a sheepish grin on his face. “Happy birthday. We won.”
Better late than never.
Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew each had two hits, and Dustin Pedroia delivered a run-scoring double for the first-place Red Sox, who went 5-2 at Fenway Park and have won seven of their last nine games to maintain their one-game lead over Tampa Bay in the American League East. The Rays edged San Francisco, 4-3.
The Diamondbacks got two hits apiece from Martin Prado and Cody Ross, but still lost for the sixth time in their last eight games.
“We’ve got to play like we played on Friday, day in and day out, with intensity, with some emotion,” Ross said of Arizona’s 7-6 win in the series opener. “(Saturday) we came out flat, and today the same thing. We’ve got to step it up.”
Doubront (8-5) just didn’t let them.
He gave up four hits, all singles, over the first six innings, but never allowed a runner to advance to second base, twice benefiting from double plays behind him.
He surrendered only five hits overall, striking out five without any walks, and permitted just one runner to reach second.
“Just a workmanlike seven shutout innings,” said Boston manager John Farrell, who turned 51.
Doubront, a left-hander, has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of his last nine starts, and yielded three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his 20 starts this season.
“It’s been in him this whole time,” said Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “He’s really stepped it up for us and become one of our top pitchers, which is a good time. We need this.”
Doubront, who was tended to on the mound by Farrell and others while experiencing tightness in his side during the seventh inning but remained in the game, credited extra throwing sessions and attention to keeping the ball down with allowing him to work deeper into the game.
“With confidence and conviction I was throwing my fastball, like I said, down. I was able to get quick outs and keep the hitter off-balance,” he said. “Being consistent in my five-day routines and just taking my plan for my next outing. That’s the most important one to me. We’re working on that every fifth day.”
Ross, who played with the Red Sox last season, sees a different Doubront than last year.
“A little bit more mature,” he said. “He made some good pitches and located the ball well, but we had our opportunities and we blew it, and they didn’t.”
Brandon McCarthy (2-5), activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, gave up two runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings while striking out five and walking three.
The right-hander didn’t allow a hit through the first 3 2/3 innings but couldn’t make it through the fifth.
Drew and Brock Holt singled to open the fifth, and Ellsbury put the Red Sox on top with a sacrifice fly. Pedroia’s double down the left-field line plated Holt for a 2-0 lead.
McCarthy was pulled after intentionally walking David Ortiz to load the bases, and reliever Will Harris retired Mike Napoli and Mike Carp to limit the damage.
But only for so long.
Boston jumped all over reliever Josh Collmenter in the sixth, when Saltalamacchia and Drew led off with singles.
Following a sacrifice bunt by Holt, Ellsbury’s fly ball to right was lost in the sun by Gerardo Parra, which allowed Saltalamacchia to trot home. Victorino promptly made it 4-0 with an RBI single to center.
“You know it’s there, you’ve got to position yourself, you’ve got to put darker glasses on, that ball’s got to be caught,” said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. “You can’t give these guys opportunities like that.”
NOTES: Red Sox LHP Franklin Morales, on the 15-day DL with a left pectoralis strain, is slated to continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket Sunday at Buffalo. … Arizona C Tuffy Gosewisch, who made his major league debut Thursday against Texas, and Pedroia played together at Arizona State from 2002-04. … Ortiz has reached base safely in his last 18 games after getting aboard on an intentional walk in the fifth. … The Diamondbacks have a day off Monday before opening a two-game series against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. … Boston improved to 9-6 all-time against Arizona, and 9-3 in interleague games this season. … The fans gave a rousing applause to Parra after he shielded the sun with his glove to make a catch during the seventh inning. … Boston LHP Matt Thornton threw just six pitches in the eighth before leaving with an apparent injury.