Orioles touch up Buchholz
BALTIMORE — The first run he allowed was a harbinger for Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Orioles.
It came with one out in the second inning, on a ball hit by Matt Wieters that trickled down the first base line and caromed off the bag, darting away from Adrian Gonzalez.
The bleeder enabled Luke Scott to score from third and snapped a streak of 20 scoreless innings for the Sox.
It was that kind of night for Buchholz, who allowed a career-high 12 hits, and the Sox, who had a five-game road winning streak snapped before a Camden Yards crowd of 18,938. The loss prevented the Sox, who entered having won eight of their last nine games, from reaching the .500 mark for the first time this season.
“He gave up a lot of hits but managed to stop the bleeding,’’ manager Terry Francona said of Buchholz (1-3, 5.33 ERA), who allowed four runs (the last three on sacrifice flies) and recorded five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings before handing it over to Hideki Okajima.
“Thought he threw some good offspeed [pitches], thought against some of their big righthanded hitters he wasn’t getting in as much as he needed to and let them extend their arms a bit,’’ Francona said, no doubt referring to the 3-for-4 night of Vladimir Guerrero, who reached in his last three at-bats on sharply hit singles to left.
“He bent but didn’t break,’’ Francona said. “We just didn’t have a lot of offense going.’’
That was in large part because the Orioles had 23-year-old rookie lefthander Zach Britton going for them.
Britton (4-1, 2.84 ERA) became the first rookie starter in franchise history to win four games in April. He allowed one run on five hits and two walks in six innings with a pair of strikeouts.
When Britton departed, having thrown 95 pitches (49 for strikes), righthander Jim Johnson kept the pressure on, throwing two shutout innings with four strikeouts.
The Orioles extended their lead to 2-0 in the third when Buchholz gave up back-to-back singles with one out to Derek Lee and Guerrero. He walked Scott but minimized the damage by getting Adam Jones to hit a sacrifice fly to right, and inducing Mark Reynolds to ground out.
“I felt like I threw the ball better tonight than I did in the Oakland game and I got a win out of [that one],’’ Buchholz said.
“You got to tip your cap sometimes, it’s a pretty good lineup they got over there,’’ he added. “I never thought it’d be easy going out there, but at the same time if I can make the pitches that I need to make, I think I can get ’em out.’’
The Sox got one back in the fourth on Kevin Youkilis’s sacrifice fly to center that scored Dustin Pedroia, who singled, went to second on a groundout, and stole third.
The Sox had the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth, but Gonzalez grounded into a force at second.
“I should’ve put it in play better than that,’’ said Gonzalez, who went 1 for 4 with a double. “It was one of those things where if I’m feeling really comfortable at the plate, normally I hit it to left field . . . I don’t pull off and top it.’’
The Orioles took a 3-1 lead in the bottom half on another sacrifice fly by Jones.
“Some balls are in the air instead of on the ground right now,’’ Buchholz said. “I get two of those fly balls they hit back and if they’re ground balls, they don’t score those runs. I got to get the ball and make ’em hit it on the ground, and that’ll take care of a lot of that stuff.’’
Britton got the Sox to strand two more runners in the sixth, inducing Carl Crawford to fly to deep center.
Buchholz was done for the night after Reynolds hit a sacrifice fly to center in the seventh, scoring Guerrero to make it 4-1.
“They squared up on a couple of balls, but I felt like I made some good pitches they just got the bat on,’’ Buchholz said. “It happens sometimes. Sometimes those are balls that are hit to the shortstop or second baseman, but other times they fall in.
“They had a lot of hits, but a couple of them were quality pitches where they just put the bat on the ball.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.