Buchholz gives Sox a chance, but can't hold on in 9th

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Buchholz gives Sox a chance, but can't hold on in 9th

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz thought he was done.

With runners on first and third with one out in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine came strolling out to the mound at Fenway Park.

Thinking nothing of it, Buchholz extended his arm and began to place the baseball in the hands of Valentine, while taking a step towards the dugout. For this wasn't the pitching coach coming out to talk this over. This was the manager coming to make a pitching change, so he thought.

But Valentine never took the ball, and Buchholz' day wasn't over. But the decision certainly was up to him.

"I just wanted to make sure he believed -- like I did -- that he had enough," said Valentine after the game. "And he said, 'Guaranteed.'"

"I thought he was coming out to get me, and he was like, 'I'm just coming to check on how you're doing,'" said Buchholz. "And I was like, 'Go back to the dugout, and I'll try to get a ground ball double play right here.'"

That never happened.

After the mound visit, Anthony Gose stole second, and after falling behind in the count and first base open, Buchholz intentionally walked the left-handed hitting Kelly Johnson to load the bases and face Omar Vizquel with one out.

And Vizquel took an 0-2 cutter the other way to left field, that scored Rajai Davis on a sacrifice fly, to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 4-3 lead, which then ended Buchholz' night, and ended up being the game-winning run.

"It was supposed to be a cutter in," said Buchholz after the 4-3 loss. "And I didn't get it in."

"All year long, Clay's been totally honest with me," said Valentine. "After eight innings he felt great. So, he wasn't really stressed there in the ninth."

Buchholz finished the game having thrown 121 pitches and allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out four in 8 23 innings. It marked his sixth loss of the season.

"He kept making good pitches," said Valentine after the loss. "He just kept making good pitches the whole night. They scored three runs in that fourth inning where they had their fast runners on, and they hit balls off the end of the bat. A single to left, a short sac fly. Only guys on their lineup that can score on a sac fly. He made good pitches the whole night. He deserved better."

It comes a day after Valentine called out his struggling rotation, saying, "Guys are tired of playing from behind, I'll guarantee you that," following a Saturday night loss that saw Daisuke Matsuzaka pulled in the second inning after spotting the Blue Jays five runs.

If there is anyone on the Red Sox pitching staff that has given them their best chance to not play from behind, it's Buchholz. And his first three scoreless innings proved just that, as Boston took a 2-0 lead into the fourth.

Buchholz then gave up three runs. Nothing was hit too hard though. And it wasn't like Buchholz was getting racked. Because he then retired 13 in a row, up until Davis' single in the ninth with one out. David eventually scored the game-winning run on Vizquel's sacrifice fly.

But Buchholz was glad to see Valentine not take him out of the game, when he walked out to the mound in the ninth. If a run was going to score, it was going to be against Buchholz. He just didn't execute. But at least, throughout the game, he did something that the Red Sox' other starters haven't. he gave them a chance to win.

"We're trying to get deep into games, and that's sort of what I've been preaching for the last three months or so," said Buchholz after the loss. "So it's good to see him come out to the mound and not already have the call on someone else to come in."

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.