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Red Sox Can't Overcome Shaky Buchholz

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The Red Sox dropped the rubber game of the series to the Athletics 6-4, and it's not hard to tell why: Clay Buchholz looked very much like a pitcher fresh off the disabled list today.

Having dodged the long ball for most of the year, Buchholz was perhaps due for some correction. After fighting through a difficult first inning, the first bit of regression came courtesy of career minor leaguer Matt Watson in the second, who launched the first hit of his season and first home run of his career just off the top of the wall in right field. The second one--this time off the bat of Jack Cust--was not nearly so close, sailing well over the wall in straightaway center in the third inning. Spotted a one run lead in the first, Clay allowed the A's to go ahead 3-1.

With Buchholz having been pulled in the fifth inning after giving up singles to the first two batters, Scott Atchison allowed one of the runs to score on a single. Dusty Brown gave up a passed ball to move the runners up a base before a second single off of Atchison plated them both, giving the Athletics their six runs on the day. To his credit, despite four hits including the game-deciding single, Atchison pitched well in long relief again after Buchholz' mess was out of the way. Michael Bowden's inning was not nearly so impressive, relying on good defensive plays by Mike Cameron and Eric Patterson to save runs.

The Red Sox offense again suffered from poor timing and failures to capitalize on the opportunities they had. Mike Cameron wasted a bases loaded opportunity in the first, Bill Hall and J.D. Drew grounded into big double plays, and even when they were making good contact in big situations, the A's impressive outfield was again getting the job done. There were a few good performances, as Beltre had three hits including a two-run bomb to immediately undo much of the damage from the fifth, and Jed Lowrie reached base three times in his return to action, but it was not enough.

The Sox will have to put all this behind them tomorrow, as they head into Seattle for a four game set against the lowly Mariners. A bad record has never been something to stop the M's from beating the Sox into the ground in Safeco before, though. Seven games to go on the road trip, and the Sox are one game further behind the Rays and Yankees.