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Red Sox notebook

Buchholz knows trouble spots

He wants to lower homers and walks

CLAY BUCHHOLZ 5-2 vs. Orioles all time CLAY BUCHHOLZ
5-2 vs. Orioles all time
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 26, 2011

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As his rotation-mates shine, Red Sox righthander Clay Buchholz is still trying to get a good handle on his season.

Buchholz, who faces the Orioles at Camden Yards tonight, is 1-2 with a 5.31 earned run average in four starts. He has allowed six home runs, three fewer than last season. He also is averaging 6.2 walks per nine innings, nearly double his average last season.

“It seemed like I never gave up home runs last season,’’ Buchholz said. “I don’t think it’s one of those things. I think I need to do a better job of keeping the ball down. That would help.’’

The walks are even more troublesome.

“I can’t up the free passes. That’s going to get you in trouble every time,’’ he said. “That’s something I’ve been trying to work on. If I can cut down on the walks, I’ll go deeper in the games. That’s on me to fix that.’’

Facing the Orioles could be helpful. Buchholz is 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA in eight career starts against them. He did not allow an earned run in 15 innings against Baltimore last season, allowing only nine hits and four walks.

The Orioles will start lefthander Zach Britton, a 23-year-old rookie who is 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA.

To the defense Through Sunday, the Sox were tied with the Brewers with seven errors, the fewest in baseball. The team has shown marked improvement in the field after what was often an inept 2010 season.

“I think we’ve been pretty good on defense,’’ said new first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a two-time Gold Glove winner. “That’s what we expected. I can’t remember too many plays we didn’t make.’’

The pitchers, in particular, have shown improvement. After committing 21 errors last season, they have yet to have a miscue.

Showing Showalter Baltimore has lost three straight and 11 of its last 13 to fall into last place in the American League East.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter raised the ire of the Sox during spring training when he was quoted in a magazine article saying he enjoyed “whipping the butt’’ of the Red Sox because of their high payroll.

Showalter also ripped Boston general manager Theo Epstein.

“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll,’’ he said. “You got Carl Crawford because you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter?’’

Showalter later apologized to Epstein for his remarks, but only after Sox manager Terry Francona said during spring training he was “aggravated’’ by Showalter’s comments and felt they were out of line.

The Sox were 9-9 against the Orioles last season.

Power outage The Sox are seventh in the American League with 19 home runs, right in the middle of the pack. But two players expected to provide some pop, Gonzalez and David Ortiz, have been quiet of late. Gonzalez hit his only home run of the season April 6. Ortiz has two, the last coming April 2 . . . Entering last night’s games, Kevin Youkilis was tied for third in the American League with 17 walks . . . The Sox are 6-0 when leading after the sixth inning . . . Minor league outfielder Ryan Kalish confirmed yesterday that he has a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder that could require surgery.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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