Like the Red Sox, Jake Peavy has struggled to get his record to sea level this season. He has been above .500 just once, after his April 25 start at Toronto, recording his first decision in his fifth outing.
Peavy was in line for the win on Saturday afternoon against the Indians at Fenway Park, leaving after six innings with a one-run lead. Instead, he took a no-decision, his ninth in 14 outings this season, as the Sox fell to the Indians, 3-2.
Peavy’s record, though, stayed at 1-4.
He went six innings, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts and two hit batters.
Peavy got through the first inning with relative ease. He needed just 12 pitches and struck out leadoff hitter Michael Bourn looking.
After that it became a struggle.
He threw 105 pitches, 63 for strikes, in his outing, including 21 in the second in five batters. The Indians challenged Peavy with eight lefthanded batters. The only righty was catcher Yan Gomes in the ninth spot.
“Any time you face eight lefthanded batters in the lineup, you know it’s going to be a grind,’’ Peavy said. “A lot of good hitters, a lot of professional at-bats over there. But a lot of it we expected going in, a grind.
“You can’t have any balls leak back over the middle of the plate. You have to be as good as you could ever be glove side, throwing the ball in. Obviously, for me, the ball wants to come back left to right.
“To go out there and face 28 batters and 25 of them are lefthanded, that’s a challenge.”
The Indians got to Peavy for a run in the third when Bourn hit a one-out single, scoring on Asdrubal Cabrera’s double.
With two outs in the fourth, Peavy hit Carlos Santana with a pitch to load the bases, but got Gomes to fly out to Brock Holt in right field ending the inning.
With two outs in the fifth, he walked Lonnie Chisenhall to load the bases, but got Nick Swisher to ground out to Dustin Pedroia at second to end the inning.
“I thought Jake did a great job of making a number of big pitches with men on, men in scoring position,” said manager John Farrell.
“Yeah, there were opportunities on both sides that came up empty. You can credit good pitching on both sides to make a key pitch. Jake gave us a quality start. I thought he and A.J. [Pierzynski] worked well together.”
Chisenhall worked Peavy for 17 pitches in two of his plate appearances — a seven-pitch walk in the fourth and a 10-pitch walk in the fifth.
“I was comfortable the whole time,” Peavy said.” Very comfortable. You have the two walks were unbelievable grind-out at-bats.
“Lonnie Chisenhall in that last one was incredible, him fouling off some really good pitches that you think we get a hitter out with. He’s hitting .380 for a reason.’’
But, his margin for error is slim. Peavy has the lowest run support of any of the Sox starting pitchers (3.19 per game). None of the other four regular starting pitchers is below 4.14.
“You just try to do what you can do to win,” Peavy said. “Obviously, it’s been tough to score on my day. That’s something that I’m not going to shy away from the fact.
“I’m not blaming anybody. I’ve got to be better. The guys have got to be better on my day to find a way to win. It’s frustrating. There’s no doubt. At the end of the day it’s frustrating to lose.”
Relievers Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa combined to give up two runs in the seventh. With runners on the corners and no outs, Jason Kipnis hit a grounder to Pedroia, who threw home. But Pierzynski dropped the throw, allowing Cabrera to score the tying run.
“[Peavy] was great. He deserved to win,” Pierzynski said. “He fought, he battled for the whole six innings. One run, he left with the lead. We had a chance to shut them down and we didn’t do it and it’s all my fault.”
It was the first time this season Peavy has left with a lead in a game in which he ultimately ended up with a no-decision.
“Wins and losses are all that matter,” he said. “And we lost so obviously there’s disappointment any time.”