SEATTLE -- On the stat sheet, Clay Buchholz is no different than the five Red Sox starters who preceded him to the mound on this nightmarish road trip: like them, he was tagged with yet another loss Monday.
But a closer inspection showed that Buchholz threw far better than almost all of them and, with a little better support and a pinch of luck, might have been able to snap the Sox' losing streaks instead of extending it to seven straight.
Buchholz gave the Sox seven innings Monday, six of which were very good. It was the fourth inning, in which the Seattle Mariners scored all four of their runs on the afternoon, that sank him.
"Clay did what he had to do," said Bobby Valentine. "The one inning . . . well, you saw it."
"Clay deserved better than what we allowed to happen," said catcher Ryan Lavarnway. "He deserved better than that."
The inning began with what Valentine labeled a "broken-bat jam-shot'' in which Franklin Gutierrez reached. Buchholz then barely grazed Kyle Seager's uniform top with an inside pitch, giving the Mariners two on with nobody out.
Two singles to right from John Jaso and Justin Smoak produced two runs. A flyball to shallow center off the bat of Eric Thames was caught in shallow center by Jacoby Ellsbury, who threw home only to have the ball skip past catcher Ryan Lavarnway, with the error charged to Ellsbury.
"I wish they'd given me that error," said Lavarnway. "Jacoby's trying to get the guy out. He did exactly what he should have. I played it into an in-between hop. I need to go out and smother that ball. I absolutely need to keep that ball in front of me."
Two batters later, Jose Iglesias bobbled the transfer of the ball after fielding a grounder, allowing Carlos Peguero to reach and Smoak to score.
Outside of the fourth, Buchholz yielded just two other hits and one walk. He had four one-two-three innings. But the Sox' margin of error is razor thin these days and the fourth inning proved his undoing.
"Tough luck today," shrugged Buchholz of the inning. "Stuff happens. I've been saying for about a month and a half now, but we've got to find a way to push along. We can't come to the field every day thinking about the day before. You've got to sort of forget about it.
"We're not really playing good baseball right now and not finding a way to win in all aspects of the game. It's pretty tough."