Buchholz searching for better command

Righty allows 5 runs on 8 hits, 4 walks in 6 1/3 innings Thursday

Buchholz searching for better command

BOSTON -- The type of consistency Clay Buchholz has displayed so far in 2016 has been the frustrating kind. In four of the right-hander's five starts, he has given up five earned runs.

At a point in the season when the Red Sox are trying to get on a roll, Buchholz doesn't want to be the pitcher that stops them. Yet it was Buchholz on the hook for Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Braves that snapped a four-game winning streak for Boston.

With Buchholz now 172 starts into his career, it is still hard for anyone to know what to expect when he takes the mound.

He is 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA thus far this season. Boston's past two losses have both come with Buchholz on the mound.

"I wouldn't ever go on a bad streak if I knew what I had to do not to go on them," Buchholz said. "I think it just happens sometimes. Team is going good and everybody is throwing the ball well, and it's falling on me right now. I haven't been throwing the ball as well as the other guys. It usually stops and turns and goes the other way at some point, too. Just got to keep grinding and stay with it the four days in between and take the ball in five days."

For all those who have followed Buchholz's career, it would surprise nobody if he soon starts on a hot streak. But to do that, his command will have to be far better than it was against the Braves.

Over 6 1/3 innings Thursday, Buchholz gave up eight hits and four walks. Three of the walks were to Jace Peterson, the No. 7 hitter who is hitting .200.

Buchholz's final at-bat with Peterson tells the story of just how off kilter the righty was in this one.

"With Peterson, I told [catcher Christian Vazquez] to set up middle in the last at-bat, and I still couldn't throw a strike," Buchholz said.

Peterson went on to score an insurance run later in the inning.

Smith's RBI single

"I think when he's gotten in trouble, it has been more location and pitches up in the strike zone," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "That was the case tonight, in combination with the walks, which were bunched in with some hits. But to say it's any one pitch that is getting him in trouble, it's more general location than any one pitch that he's getting burnt on."

By the time Buchholz takes the ball next week on the road against the White Sox, he hopes to have a better handle on things.

"It's frustrating when you can't put a finger on what you need to do and when you need to do it and why," Buchholz said. "All I can do right now is learn from it and get better within these next couple of days."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.