BOSTON -- The baseball game at Fenway Park on Patriots’ Day was not nearly the most important sporting event in Boston. That much is clear. The Red Sox had a chance to steal some of the thunder, but a rally fell short in a deflating 7-6 loss in front of 37,513 fans.
Clay Buchholz gave up six runs before being pulled with one out in the third inning in his shortest start since 2012. The Orioles added another in the eighth, which was just enough to offset a three-run Boston rally in the fifth, solo homers by David Ross and Mike Napoli, and a single tally in the ninth. Napoli batted with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth but could only muster an RBI groundout, and Mike Carp followed with a grounder to first to end it.
The Sox had the go-ahead runs at the plate in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t complete the comeback. Baltimore gains a series split and Boston finishes its first 20 games at 9-11.
Swinging singles: Buchholz threw just six of his 16 first-inning pitches for strikes. He found the zone in a quick second before getting far too much of the plate in the third, when the first five Orioles hitters singled. That run ended with an RBI groundout before Steve Clevenger doubled in another run to make it 5-0.
Baltimore finished the frame with six singles -- still five shy of Boston’s American League standard of 11 set in a game against Detroit in 1953 -- the last of which chased Buchholz. If not for the 6-4-3 double play turned in on the third pitch thrown by reliever Burke Badenhop, the final line for Buchholz might’ve looked worse.
Mixed signals: With Daniel Nava at first base and Xander Bogaerts at second and one out in the bottom of the eighth, the Sox put the runners in motion multiple times. Herrera fouled off pitches twice and then Bogaerts was nearly picked off by Baltimore lefty Brian Matusz.
On the very next pitch, Matusz struck out Herrera. Nava was running on the play and Bogaerts started to race to third before stopping. He was caught between second and third and became an easy out while Nava stood safely on second. Someone got a signal crossed on that one, and Bogaerts was glancing at Nava with his hands on his hips as the teams cleared the field.
Double up: Badenhop, who entered 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA, induced three inning-ending double plays in all. It helped the righty go 3 2/3 scoreless innings -- his longest outing since a four-inning stint out of the Marlins’ bullpen in 2011 -- and spare a pen that had used up long man Chris Capuano on Sunday night. That made Buchholz’s abbreviated start a virtual non-issue in terms of bullpen use, although Badenhop won’t be available for a game.
Overall, the pen allowed a run and three hits in 6 2/3 frames.
Pedey time: The clean MRI that Dustin Pedroia received on his wrist earlier this month had to give him some confidence going forward. The second baseman is 9-for-25 with six walks since the procedure after going 2-for-3 with two doubles and a pair of free passes Monday. His wall-scraper in the ninth nearly tied it before Orioles closer Tommy Hunter escaped.
A run is a run: If you guessed April 21 for the date on which minor league call-up Brock Holt would drive in slow-footed David Ross on a sacrifice fly to shallow center field, then you win! Alas, nobody entered that date, or any other for that matter, and the contest is now closed after that very unlikely scenario unfolded in Boston’s three-run fifth.
Back to normal: Through Monday, the Red Sox have played games that started within eight different hours (all Eastern Time), a handful of which have involved ceremonies and tributes and massive media attention. Although the Yankees and their usual entourage arrive Tuesday night, it will represent a slight return to normalcy.
The wild fluctuations in start times and quick turnarounds disappear for the time being, as Boston plays night games during the week and day games on weekends into May, and also gets four days off between April 28 and May 12.
Up next: It’s a doozy. Jon Lester opposes Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in the opener of a three-game set at Fenway on Tuesday, which also marks the return of Jacoby Ellsbury. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.