Buchholz gets knocked around in first start since June 16

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Buchholz gets knocked around in first start since June 16

DETROIT -- The Red Sox' pitching problems aren't limited to the back end of their bullpen.

For the second straight game Sunday, they had to deal with a poor outing from their starting pitcher. On Saturday, it was Josh Beckett, who was blasted for five homers in a 10-0 loss.

On Sunday, it was a sub-par effort from Clay Buchholz, who was making his first start since last June 16, having missed the entire second half of the 2011 season with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Buchholz was tagged for four runs in the first inning -- setting the tone for the day -- another in the second and two more in the fourth.

He was lifted after that, having needed 78 pitches to record just a dozen outs. Unlike Beckett, he didn't have any issues with the long ball and only two of the eight hits against him were for extra bases.

But the effect was still the same: the Sox had to overcome the hole that Buchholz had dug for them, and they were into the bullpen far too soon.

"You know, I felt really good," said Buchholz. "It's just a matter of wanting to keep the ball in the park because the wind was blowing out and I did that. But it just seemed that every time they made contact, the ball either found a hole or was just out of the reach of somebody in the infield."

One problem for Buchholz was not being able to put some hitters away when he was well ahead in the count. In the first inning alone, two Tigers who were behind 0-and-2 to Buchholz managed to connect for big hits.

"I've just got to do a better job of getting guys out and avoiding the big innings," said Buchholz.

Catcher Kelly Shoppach thought that Buchholz was the victim of some bad luck on the field, and, perhaps, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Nothing was wrong with him," said Shoppach. "They're a hot team -- it seemed like all hot. In this series, it seemed like they might have had 10 or 12 ground ball base hits and some broken bats fell in. They have some good hitters over there and they squared us up when we made mistakes.

"Clay threw the ball fine. He had pretty good stuff. He got burned a couple of times in big situations, but I thought he was pretty good today."

Said manager Bobby Valentine: "It didn't seem like he had a great feel for his curveball, so he went to his changeup and that got hit a couple of times . . . It's something he'll improve on."

Sunday marked the first time in his last 42 starts that Buchholz had given up more than five earned runs. Given the way the rest of the staff is going, he picked a bad time to see his streak come to an end.

"It's not the way you wanted to start," Buchholz said. "When this team scores 12 runs in a game, it should be a 100-percent win."

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

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Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.