Buchholz's strong night goes for naught
Offense unable to mount third consecutive walk-off victory
BOSTON -- There was a lot that Clay Buchholz could take from Thursday night, including a career-high 10 strikeouts and a crisp, confident pace he had been trying to capture since Spring Training. But the one thing he couldn't get was what he wanted most -- a win.
Instead, a strong performance by Buchholz went for naught on a night the Red Sox were shut down by C.J. Wilson and two Texas relievers in a 3-0 loss.
"C.J. threw a better game than I did," credited Buchholz. "That's basically what it comes down to. He kept guys off balance, got them to hit ground balls when he needed ground balls. I can't say anything else about it."
After a pair of walk-off wins that ended a five-game losing streak, the Red Sox had no comeback magic in them as they were unable to take the lead first for the eighth consecutive game.
The 6-10 Sox are in fourth place in the American League East, six games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I mean, it's April," said Red Sox designated hitter Mike Lowell. "I don't think we're down in the depths or anything because we lost four games to Tampa Bay. I don't think anyone here is really that happy with the way we've been playing. We haven't played up to our capabilities at all. The walk-offs are exciting, but I think you'd rather have a 7-2 game where everything is solid and crisp. We'll take them any way they'll come, but I don't think we've been playing the way we should."
Buchholz and Wilson had a scoreless duel going through six. It was Buchholz who cracked first, as Texas rallied for three in the seventh.
"Up until the seventh inning, I felt really good about it," Buchholz said. "I felt like I missed two spots with the fastball, and they both got hit for doubles and both were in the seventh inning. They were down. I was telling myself all day that if I miss, just miss down. They put two good swings on them and drove a couple runs in. But other than that, I felt good. I felt like I'm moving in the right direction."
Buchholz is 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA.
"You can't do better than that," said Sox catcher Victor Martinez. "He threw the ball great. C.J. Wilson threw the ball great, too. One had to lose, one had to win. Unfortunately, we take the loss. For me, personally, Clay was on from his first pitch."
Josh Hamilton got things rolling with a double to left. Nelson Cruz made it 1-0 Rangers with an RBI single up the middle. David Murphy followed with an RBI double to center.
"In the seventh, they obviously respected the way he was pitching. They stayed up the middle," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "The two lefties stayed to left-center, the righty hit the ball up the middle. That's where the damage came. He pitched tremendous."
With two outs in the seventh, Andres Blanco produced a bunt RBI single in which Buchholz went for the out at first, but instead he threw the ball into right field for an error. That made it 3-0.
"Buchholz threw the ball great," Cruz said. "He wasn't missing the strike zone. He was throwing first-pitch strikes. We just had to be patient and wait for a good pitch to hit."
Wilson fired 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just four hits. He walked two and struck out two.
The Red Sox threatened in the bottom of the seventh, as singles by Martinez and Adrian Beltre gave Darnell McDonald another chance to be a hero. With righty sidewinder Darren O'Day on for the Rangers, McDonald grounded to third to end the inning.
Francona had four left-handed hitters on his bench, including David Ortiz and Jeremy Hermida. But he opted to stay with the hot hand.
"I just thought he swung the bat so well," said Francona. "He looks dangerous to me right now. I know there's probably not a pedigree there, and I certainly did think about doing that. He looks like a dangerous hitter right now, and he actually had a pretty good at-bat."
As a team, however, the Red Sox couldn't generate enough good at-bats. Wilson had a lot to do with that.
"[Wilson] had movement on his fastball," said Francona, who also credited the southpaw's slider and changeup, which he threw for strikes. "We didn't mount a whole lot. Early in the game, I thought we squared up some balls. We just never strung anything together."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.