BOSTON -- The bullpen held, and held, and held some more. But after 11 innings and more than four hours of baseball, Red Sox relievers succumbed to the wide-eyed hitters from Milwaukee.
In the top of the eleventh inning, Burke Badenhop, the fifth Red Sox reliever of Saturday night, allowed back-to-back doubles, the second of which, off the bat of right fielder Logan Schafer, scored Khris Davis to give the Brewers a 7-6 win.
The Red Sox used six relievers in all after Clay Buchholz lasted 4.1 innings after allowing a whopping 13 hits and six runs. Combined, Chris Capuano, Brandon Workman, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Badenhop and Andrew Miller threw 6.2 innings, struck out 15, and allowed only the winning run.
To get to that point, the point where the bullpen could keep it close, the Red Sox had to do plenty of work to dig themselves out of the hole Buchholz dug for them.
And they needed plenty of help from an erratic Brewers infield defense.
The Red Sox tied the score in the bottom of the sixth inning, 6-6, thanks to some help from what was almost a game-long trend of hapless defense from the Brewers. Shortstop Jean Segura was the prime culprit, booting three different opportunities in the game, and it was his error on a Jonathan Hererra ground ball that allowed Xander Bogaerts to score from third to tie the score.
To that point, the Red Sox scored a combined five runs in the second and third innings off of Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta. Bogaerts and Jonny Gomes -- a late replacement for Mike Carp, who was scratched before the game with lower-back stiffness -- led off the second inning with back-to-back hits. A ground out from AJ Pierzynski scored Bogaerts and an infield single by Hererra, which Segura couldn't field cleanly, scored Gomes.
In the third inning, the Red Sox put three more on the board, again, with the help of Milwaukee's bumbling infield. After Grady Sizemore walked, Dustin Pedroia reached on an error by third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Daniel Nava then grounded to short for what looked like a sure-thing double play, yet Segura muffed another and could only just barely nab Nava running to first.
Instead of being out of the inning, Mike Napoli followed and belted a moon-shot home run to straightaway centerfield to cut Milwaukee's lead to 6-5.
Making his first start of the season in Boston's fifth game, Buchholz's fastball was eminently hittable, sitting in the mid-to-high 80-mph range rather than the low-90s, and his secondary pitches appeared to lack bite.
As a result, he got whacked around Fenway Park. In the second, he allowed monster home runs to both Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gomez. In the third, Jonathan Lucroy, Ramirez and Davis led off the inning with
hits. A two-run double by Scooter Gennett made the score 6-2 in favor of the Brewers.
One night after the Red Sox bullpen -- Edward Mujica in particular -- failed to keep them in the game, it rallied to limit the damage. Capuano entered the game with one out in the fifth and two runners on. He ended up stranding both and went on to throw two innings and strike out four of the eight batters he faced.
Workman relieved Capuano with one out in the top of the seventh and runners on first and third. He promptly struck out the next two Brewers and pitched a scoreless eighth to keep the score at 6-6.
The one-night brilliance of the Red Sox bullpen was continued a prototypical performance from closer Koji Uehara. He struck out the side in 13 pitches, recording the first two punchouts in the minimum of six pitches.
David Ortiz, who had been given a scheduled day off, entered into the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the bases empty in order to try to end things with one swing, but he grounded out into the shift and the game went to extra innings.
Junichi Tazawa wrestled himself from a bases-loaded jam in the top of the tenth, but that proved to be the bullpen's last stand.
Badenhop ran into trouble early in the eleventh inning, allowing a ground-rule double to Davis. After more than four hours and a ten-degree drop in temperature at Fenway (from 49 degrees at first pitch to 39 degrees), Davis proved to be the winning run.
AT A GLANCE
STAR OF THE GAME: Brewers bullpen
As good as Red Sox relievers were, Milwaukee's matched them pitch for pitch -- and did them one better. Jim Henderson entered the game to spelled starter Wily Peralta and allowed one unearned run in the sixth inning. From there, the Brewers bullpen arms were sterling, going five scoreless innings highlighted by Francisco Rodriguez's perfect eleventh when he faced the middle of the Sox lineup and struck out the side in order to nail down the save.
HONORABLE MENTION: Khris Davis
The left fielder had a big day at the plate for the Brewers, finishing with four hits and two runs scored. His ground-rule double in the top of the eleventh inning put him in position to score the game-winning run on Logan Schafer's RBI double.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Clay Buchholz
The plan to ease Buchholz into the season by making him the team's fifth starter didn't seem to have the immediate effect the Red Sox were hoping for. He allowed 13 hits and six runs in 4.1 innings, leaving his team a pretty significant hole from which to climb.
Back-to-back muffed ground balls in the Brewers infield gave the Red Sox new life in the third inning. Facing an early 6-2 deficit, an Aramis Ramirez error was followed by a botched double-play ball courtesy of Jean Segura. Instead of being out of the inning, Peralta faced Mike Napoli with two on and two out. Napoli's homer cut the Brewers lead to just one run.
BY THE NUMBERS
According to Red Sox media relations, Saturday's loss was the first game in which five Sox pitchers had three or more strikeouts: Buchholz (3), Chris Capuano (4), Brandon Workman (3), Koji Uehara (3), Junichi Tazawa (3).
QUOTE OF NOTE
"Missed with a lot of pitches tonight, and when I did, they seemed to put the barrel on it." - Clay Buchholz