SEATTLE - Clay Buchholz felt exhausted after throwing only 76 pitches.
His return to the mound for the Red Sox after nearly a month on the disabled list was a test by an aggressive Seattle offense that had battered Boston pitching the first two games of the series.
"They made me work hard," Buchholz said. "I knew they were swinging. That's about the most aggressive team that I've pitched to in my career. For the number of pitches that I threw that was a grinding, stressful outing knowing I can't make a mistake."
Buchholz pitched into the eighth inning in his first start since late May, David Ortiz gave him cushion from the start with his 449th career home run in the first inning, and Boston avoided being swept with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.
Outside of three batters in the second inning, Buchholz's return could not have gone much better. He was efficient, he pitched deep into the game to save Boston's bullpen and he relied on more than just two pitches.
"He looked confident, he looked relaxed," Farrell said of Buchholz. "He was able to make pitches with four different types of pitches. An overall outstanding performance."
Buchholz was using just his fastball and cutter early in the season. The time away allowed him to work on his curveball and changeup and as his outing progressed, those pitches got better. Buchholz was so good with his pitch efficiency teammates were questioning whether the count was correct.
"At one point I had to ask if the pitch count was right because it was the fifth and he had like 45 pitches," Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "It was good. It was an encouraging outing and I'm glad for Clay that he went out and pitched like he did."