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Rockies 8, Red Sox 2

Clay Buchholz’s plan comes apart quickly in Red Sox’ loss

Clay Buchholz was the center of the discussion for Red Sox manager John Farrell (left) after the pitcher allowed his second home run of the fifth inning.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Clay Buchholz had been through rough patches before, but to him, his troubles this season didn’t feel like anything he’d been through in the past.

He felt healthy, as good as he has in the past two years, he said, and he felt confident in his pitches.

He had missed with pitches before in his career, but he had never been punished as harshly for his mistakes as he had been this season.

In all but two of his starts this season, he’d given up at least one homer. Seven of the homers he has allowed came with runners on.

“I’ve never really given up home runs in those situations,” Buchholz said Wednesday. “It’s usually been a single with runners on second and third, a two-run single or a two-run double. Historically, I’ve kept the ball in the ballpark for the most part in my career.


“Right now, all the balls that I’m giving up in those situations are home runs. You’ve got to find a way to combat that.”

He came into the Sox’ 8-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies with a plan, but it didn’t take long for that plan to come apart at the seams.

For three innings, he couldn’t have been sharper, setting down the first nine batters he faced, but a trio of two-run homers derailed what could’ve been a statement start for Buchholz, who could find himself as the odd man out with Joe Kelly back in the rotation and Eduardo Rodriguez possibly making a return next week.

Buchholz took his fifth loss of the season. All of those have come at Fenway. The Sox are 2-5 when Buchholz starts at home. The rest of the staff is 16-5 at Fenway.

Sox starters were 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA in the past four games. But after giving up six runs on seven hits in five innings, Buchholz came away feeling like the weak link. He’s given up five or more runs in six of his 10 starts this season. His record dropped to 2-5 while his ERA rose to 6.35.


“I’m basically the one that’s struggling — the only one that’s struggling,” Buchholz said Thursday. “I guess it’s better off that way than to have three out of five guys struggling.

“I feel like guys are doing a really good job of picking up the slack that I’m leaving behind. You figure it has to change sooner or later. I’m feeling as good as I’ve felt in two and half, three years, so I’ve got to find a way to get through it.”

A two-run homer by David Ortiz in the first inning gave Buchholz an early lead to work with, but it took two innings for everything to crumble.

What struck Sox manager John Farrell was that each homer came on a different pitch: a curveball, a fastball, and a changeup.

In the fourth inning, Carlos Gonzalez shipped one of Buchholz’s curveballs into the visitors’ bullpen in right field to wipe out the early deficit.

It was a pitch that Buchholz thought would find the dirt before it ever found Gonzalez’s bat, but Gonzalez reached down to get it.

“The curveball, it probably bounced,” Buchholz said sarcastically. “It’s either lucky or a good piece of hitting.”

The next inning, after giving up a leadoff single to Gerardo Parra, Buchholz found himself in a nine-pitch battle with Trevor Story. After going down and away with a curveball, he tried to go up and in with a fastball, but Story launched it into the Monster seats.


“I was trying to elevate up and in, I guess I didn’t get it in enough,” Buchholz said.

Things snowballed from there. Buchholz gave up a single to left by Daniel Descalso, then left a changeup dangling at the waist of Dustin Garneau, who smacked it off the light tower over the Green Monster for another two-run blast.

“I spiked one, then I felt like I could throw one for a strike to get back in the count and he hit that one too,” Buchholz said. “So, yeah, you just scratch your head right there.

Farrell came to the mound, seemingly ready to take the ball from Buchholz, but allowed him to finish the fifth.

“No starting pitcher wants to come out of a ballgame,” Farrell said. “Where we were with a 6-2 ballgame, we were pretty much hitter to hitter at that point.”

Buchholz set down the next hitters in order on nine pitches, but when he came back out for the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Gonzalez, his night was done.

On a rare night when the Sox offense wasn’t cracking out runs, Buchholz couldn’t find a much-needed answer for his struggles. Ortiz accounted for two of the Sox’ six hits with the homer and a double in the fourth. Jackie Bradley Jr., who was hitting in the leadoff spot with Mookie Betts getting most of the night off, saw his 29-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0-for-4 day. The loss snapped the Sox’ four-game winning streak. It was just their third loss in their past 16 games at Fenway.


David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the first inning.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Buchholz hadn’t allowed three homers in a start since 2014.

With Kelly making his return last Saturday and Rodriguez on the mend, the Sox will have six healthy starters.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the team had yet to have conversations about moving starters to the bullpen, but acknowledged that once Rodriguez is healthy enough to return, those talks were inevitable.

Buchholz wanted to make the decision a difficult one, but giving up three homers in a start for the first time since 2014 didn’t help his case.

Buchholz hasn’t come out of the bullpen since 2008, but said he would be willing to switch roles for the team.

“That’s out of my paygrade,” he said. “I can’t worry about that. I’m here to pitch. If I don’t have a spot, then that’s part of it. What’s the saying? If you don’t like it, pitch better, so I guess that’s what it comes down to.”

Box score: Rockies 8, Red Sox 2

Photos: Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number

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