FORT MYERS, FLA.
Clay Buchholz is rounding into form for the Boston Red Sox.
Making his fifth start this spring, Buchholz pitched four-hit ball into the sixth inning, but the Red Sox lost 5-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
Buchholz allowed one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.
The Pirates scored four times in the eighth. Pedro Alvarez hit a tiebreaking two-run shot off Anthony Carter for his first homer of the spring.
Garrett Jones hit his first spring homer leading off the second for Pittsburgh’s only run against Buchholz, who went 11-8 in 29 starts last year.
“Everything feels good,” Buchholz said. “It feels good to feel good, really. All the pitches are coming along. A few here and there, maybe I’m trying too hard to make a better pitch than what I should.”
“But at least they’re good pitches — they’re down for the most part. Everything’s rolling along right now,” he said.
The right-hander threw 88 pitches.
“A number of quality pitches with men in scoring position,” manager John Farrell said. “I thought he kept the game in check, didn’t speed up on him at all. Thought he and [catcher] David [Ross] worked will together in those situations to use all his pitches. Again, another very solid outing for Clay.”
Left-hander Jeff Locke, vying for a spot in the Pirates’ rotation, went four innings. He allowed two earned on seven hits and a walk.
“Early on, the first inning and a half, my fastball on both sides of the plate was missing big,” Locke said. “It didn’t really miss middle of the plate.
“If I threw in, it was in-in. If I threw off, it was way off. It wasn’t as spotty today as I’d like to be. But, aside from any other outing, I feel that I mixed my pitches well and really threw all my stuff.”
Locke faced a Red Sox lineup that was very close to what it will be on opening day.
“It can’t hurt you to face that lineup,” he said. “It’s pretty close to what they’re going to put out there every night. They have a lot of good bats, and it’s a great challenge.”