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Despite loss, Clay Buchholz remains confident

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz said he believes in the team’s offense.john tlumacki/Globe staff/Globe Staff

The moment Clay Buchholz felt his cleat get caught on the rubber, he knew nothing good was coming from his next pitch.

The 0-and-1 cutter he tried to fire past Mitch Moreland looked nothing like the 27 others he threw over his 7⅓ innings.

He got 23 of his 70 strikes with that cutter. The Rangers tried hacking at it — 19 times, in fact — but only managed to put it in play five times.

But as much as he had the pitch working, Buchholz knew this one felt wrong.

“I shouldn’t have even threw the pitch,” he said. “It was in my mind — not that particular pitch — but I stopped in my windup in Seattle, my foot got caught on the windup and I was just like, ‘All right, whatever.’ ”

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When Moreland shot it back over the Green Monster, Buchholz didn’t think much of it.

“When I hit it, I thought it was going to be off the wall for sure,” he said.

But it kept carrying until it landed in the first row of the Monster seats.

On a night when Buchholz held the Rangers to five hits and three runs (two earned), Moreland’s homer was just a blip. But with the Sox offense scuffling, that blip was part of the difference in the Rangers’ 3-1 win.

Rangers starter Wandy Rodriguez held the Sox to just four hits over 6⅔ innings, and the Sox’ frustrations at the plate continued to bubble after going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Buchholz could relate.

“Remember the first two weeks of the season, how the pitching staff was?” he said. “It’s going to happen. Everybody in this clubhouse is confident that everything’s going to come together. Everybody wants it to happen now and that’s not how baseball works. It’s easy to sit on the outside and look in and say our offense isn’t doing their job, they’re going up there trying to do it.

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“Just not happening right now. There’s nobody in our clubhouse that’s doubting our offense. Everybody here knows that it’s really good and it’s going to happen.”

Buchholz gave the Sox a quality start for the third straight outing, and in the past eight games a once-struggling Sox rotation has thrown at least five innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs each time out.

“It was a work in progress for a couple times through, but we know what we have to do,” Buchholz said. “It’s not like we didn’t know prior, but it’s made it more of a focus to pitch with intent. Instead of being afraid of throwing a pitch, throw it and make sure that you throw it to the location you want to throw it to and be convicted in it and that’s makes any pitcher better.”

From his four-seamer (20 of 30 for strikes) to his changeup (10 of 15) to his curveball (9 of 12) to his cutter (23 of 28), Buchholz had command of every pitch.

“I’ve been trying to mix my pitches each time out and each time through the order so they can’t sit on a particular spot or a particular count,” he said. “It’s a little bit easier whenever you have your pitches working, it’s the times that you go through whenever you’ve got one or two pitches working and you’ve got to filter out the other ones.”

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But he came away with his fifth loss of the season and is still looking for his first Fenway win since last September.

“The game’s the game, a win’s a win regardless where it’s at,” Buchholz said. “I try to pitch to my capabilities every time I go out. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve thrown a lot worse ball games than I’ve thrown today and came out with the win. So it’s just how it goes sometimes.”


Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow.