The energetic sellout crowds at Fenway Park all weekend attested to the willingness of fans to see what the Red Sox would look like after shipping off five veteran players at the trade deadline on Thursday.
They were rewarded with a victory against the rival Yankees on Friday night. But two frustrating losses have followed since.
As was the case on Saturday, the Red Sox were unable to hold a three-run lead, this time in an 8-7 setback against the Yankees on Sunday night.
The Red Sox were 1-5 on their homestand and have lost 10 of their last 12 games.
Clay Buchholz didn’t take the loss but he was responsible for it with five poor innings. David Ortiz homered and drove in three runs for the Sox.
Brett Gardner’s solo home run in the sixth inning off Craig Breslow won the game for the Yankees. Stephen Drew drove in four runs.
Drew, who was traded to New York on Thursday, was 3 for 11 with two walks and five RBIs in the series. He drove in three runs in 18 games playing for the Red Sox at Fenway Park this season.
With the Sox down by a run in the ninth inning, Christian Vazquez worked a leadoff walk against New York closer David Robertson. With Brock Holt at the plate, pinch runner Mookie Betts took off for second base. Holt belted a line drive to third base and the Yankees had an easy double play.
“I’m not sure I could have hit that ball harder than I did,” Holt said. “We had a hit-and-run on and we nearly made it work.”
Robertson got Dustin Pedroia to ground out for his 29th save. Derek Jeter made the play to end a game that lasted 3 hours and 42 minutes.
The Red Sox scored seven runs on eight hits in the first four innings and were held without a hit over the final five innings. Esmil Rogers (1-0) retired nine of the 10 batters he faced in relief for the win.
When the Red Sox traded Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy in July, Buchholz was the only pitcher remaining from a rotation that helped lead the Red Sox to the title last year.
But status did not equate to success for the righthander, who allowed seven runs on eight hits and five walks over five innings.
Buchholz gave away leads of 3-0 and 7-4 with his latest ratty performance. On a night when the Red Sox gave their starter plenty of support, Buchholz gave it all away.
The Red Sox scored three runs in the first inning against Yankees starter David Phelps. Ortiz had a sacrifice fly and Daniel Nava a two-run single as Phelps threw 32 pitches.
Buchholz came out for the second inning and walked Mark Teixeira on five pitches. Carlos Beltran, 6 for 12 in the series, singled and Buchholz walked Brian McCann to load the bases.
Buchholz struck out Chase Headley before Drew chopped a ball to the right side of the mound. Buchholz went to second hoping for a double play but Drew beat the relay and a run scored.
Buchholz walked No. 9 hitter Martin Prado to extend the inning. Gardner capitalized on that mistake with a two-run double to right field.
Two more runs might have scored had Pedroia not made a diving stop and thrown out Jeter to end the inning.
Pedroia’s two-run homer in the second inning gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead. It was his fifth homer of the season, the first since June 19. Pedroia was 2 for 5 and is 16 of his last 40, raising his batting average to .281.
McCann and Drew doubled in the fourth inning to bring the Yankees within a run.
The Red Sox kept scoring. With Phelps out of the game after two innings with a sore elbow, Chase Whitley took over. With two outs and a runner on in the fourth inning, he left a fastball over the plate and Ortiz drove it to the deepest part of the park. The ball sailed past the 420-foot marker in center for Ortiz’s 26th home run. The two-run shot gave the Red Sox a 7-4 lead.
It was the 457th career home run for Ortiz, tying him with Adam Dunn of the White Sox for 35th all time.
Buchholz was undeterred in his apparent desire to aggravate the crowd, his teammates, and his coaches.
He got two quick outs in the fifth inning before Beltran doubled off the wall in left. Buchholz then walked McCann, a .238 hitter, for the second time. Headley followed with a double to left field that scored one run. Drew was next and he lined a two-run single to right field.
“Four consecutive base runners and that lead evaporates once again,” manager John Farrell said. “Trying to get Clay through that fifth inning and unfortunately it doesn’t happen.”
Buchholz was finished after five innings and 114 pitches, only 61 of them strikes.
Buchholz has gone only 22 innings in his last four starts, giving up 22 earned runs on 31 hits and 13 walks. His earned run average is up to 6.20.
“Second start in a row where walks killed me,” Buchholz said.
In a 7-7 game, the Red Sox turned to Breslow (2-3). His third pitch, a fastball up and over the plate, was driven out to right-center field by Gardner. It was his 15th home run of the season.
Breslow has given up a home run to the first batter he has faced in two consecutive outings.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.