Buchholz's inconsistency mirrors Red Sox rotation

Staked to four-run lead, righty gives up five runs in 2 2/3 innings

Buchholz's inconsistency mirrors Red Sox rotation

BOSTON -- The Red Sox need more from all their starters, and Clay Buchholz knows that he's at the top of that list.

This was the year Buchholz was supposed to set the tone for a Boston team that heard for months that it lacked a true ace. Instead, the righty has been setting a tone of inconsistency that continued Tuesday in a disheartening 11-8 loss to the Blue Jays.

It's one thing to lose. But this one was far more painful to Buchholz, considering the Red Sox staked him to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second, and he gave five runs right back in the top of the third.

Buchholz (1-3, 5.76 ERA) lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and five runs.

"Whenever your team gives you a four-run lead, you're supposed to come out better than that," said Buchholz. "I went out there with a game plan of throwing strikes, letting them put the ball in play and getting outs, and I walked the first guy, and all the contact they made, they hit the ball hard and it wasn't at any of our defenders. I've got to do a lot better job than that."

As a rotation, the Red Sox are 6-7 with a 6.03 ERA.

"I don't think there's a lack of work going into it. It's sort of snowballing right now," Buchholz said. "We've got to find a way to stop that. We don't have a whole lot of luck on our side right now. Balls that are hit, they're finding holes. Seems like every ball we hit, they're right at people. Guess we've got to bide our time and work harder and go after them next time."

Of late, there have been hints that the rotation is about to perform better. But each solid start seems to be followed by a clunker.

"It's been every other start," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "There's been quality starts in between outings, where they've been less than [needed], such as tonight. We've been victimized by the big inning, and we've got to find a way to minimize the damage inside those situations."

Buchholz's up-and-down nature has been symbolic of the entire rotation. He fired a gem on Opening Day, followed by one of the worst starts of his career. His third start was the most bizarre, as Buchholz was clubbed for 11 hits, but just two runs. There was a nice rebound at Tropicana Field last week (two hits and one run over six innings), immediately followed by Tuesday night's setback.

"Get back to work tomorrow," said Buchholz. "I've found the last couple of years, the more you think about it, the harder it is to go out there and perform the next time out. It's not a good feeling when you get beat in any type of way, but today, preparing the way I prepared, feeling like I put myself in the best position to win, for this team to win. When it goes that way, it doesn't mesh well."

Though the rotation is the weak link at the moment, there's no finger-pointing in the clubhouse.

"We're a team," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the 11-10 Red Sox. "It's not football. It's not an offense and a defense. It's a whole team. That's how we look at it. I try to view everything in a season, 162 [games]. Twenty-one games is a small sample compared to the big picture. We've got to get back to the process in every phase and go from there."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.