Buchholz feels fine, but is rusty

OAKLAND, Calif. -- This wasn't exactly the way Clay Buchholz wanted to return to the Red Sox's starting rotation.

The Boston right-hander was activated from the disabled list Wednesday and made his first start in nearly a month after suffering a left hamstring strain on June 26. Buchholz worked four innings (he faced two batters in the fifth) and allowed five runs on six hits, including two home runs, with three walks, two strikeouts, one wild pitch and a balk as Oakland posted a 6-4 victory.

"It looked like he had a little rust," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He left a couple of fastballs over the plate and they did a lot of damage. We got him up to 87 pitches, which is good because hopefully we can build on that. It looked like the game was a little quick today. He balked and did some things, but he hasn't been out in about a month. He'll be OK. He's healthy."

Buchholz, a first-time All-Star this season, saw his record fall to 10-5.

"I was rusty," he said. "My body felt fine and that's the big thing."

Offensively the Red Sox couldn't get it done again on Wednesday and have now scored four runs or fewer in eight straight games, which is the longest such streak since Francona became manager in 2004, according to ESPN's Stats and Information department.

But Buchholz took the blame for this one.

"Obviously, I don't want to go out there and throw four-plus innings and give up five runs," he said. "We're the Red Sox. We're good and we're going to fight adversity that we have to go through to get to the point we want to be at. We're still battling a couple of injuries to some guys, but the last couple of games have been awful. I didn't do my job out there today and it's hard to ask your team to come back and score you five or six runs when you only pitch four innings."

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.