BOSTON — Clay Buchholz’s first game as the leader of Boston’s new-look staff looked a lot like the rest of his poor season.
The right-hander was hit hard, giving up three-run leads twice, and the Red Sox went on to an 8-7 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday night.
Handed the “veteran role” on the staff after the club traded away four-fifths of its opening-day rotation in five days before the trading deadline, Buchholz gave up seven runs and eight hits in five innings.
“It’s been a frustrating year for everyone in here,” Buchholz said. “Obviously the organization, we don’t want to go out there and wear a Red Sox uniform and perform the way I am. I needed to pick it up during the season.”
Brett Gardner hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning for one of his three hits, helping the Yankees take two of three in the weekend set.
The Red Sox led 3-0 after one inning, 5-3 after two and 7-4 after four. But the Yankees tied it in the fifth on Chase Headley’s RBI double and Stephen Drew’s two-run single.
“Recognizing that we have some youth in the rotation – and that wasn’t the case here tonight – we may have to go through some growing pains with guys in the rotation,” Boston manager John Farrell. “But, at the same time, that doesn’t take away what the intent is and that’s to go out and execute.”
Buchholz has given up 18 runs in his last three starts, raising his ERA to 6.20. He went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA last year in a season that was cut short by a neck strain.
“When things are going good they fall into place,” he said. “When they’re going bad a lot of things happen.”
Boston lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
Former Red Sox infielder Drew had a pair of hits and drove in four runs in his third game with the Yankees since he was sent there at the trading deadline. Esmil Rogers (1-0) earned the victory in his Yankees debut by throwing three hitless innings, striking out three and allowing one walk.
David Robertson pitched the ninth for his 29th save.
Craig Breslow (2-3) came in to relieve Buchholz to start the sixth inning and gave up Gardner’s leadoff homer before retiring the next three batters.
Yankees starter David Phelps lasted just two innings, allowing five runs and six hits with two walks. He departed with right elbow inflammation and will be evaluated later this week in New York.
Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz homered for Boston. Pedroia lined a 3-2 pitch just foul with two out in the bottom of the ninth one pitch before grounding out to shortstop to end the game.
Gardner led off the sixth with his 15th homer, sending a 2-0 pitch over the Red Sox bullpen beyond right field.
Pedroia’s homer snapped a streak of 146 at-bats since his last shot. It was his fifth straight game with two hits. In 10 games since July 23, he has only gone hitless once, batting .400 with seven runs and 16 hits, including three doubles and a homer.
THE TRAINER’S ROOM
Red Sox: Newly acquired first baseman Allen Craig missed his second straight game with foot soreness. Farrell says he hopes to have Craig in the lineup when the Red Sox are in St. Louis to face his former team this week. Outfielder Shane Victorino flew to Los Angeles on Sunday to see an orthopedic surgeon about his back.
Yankees: Right-hander Michael Pineda, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury, will make a rehab start on Friday. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (right elbow ligament) will see doctors as scheduled on Monday, three weeks after he received an injection as an alternative to surgery.
Red Sox: The Red Sox have their second off day in less than a week before a rematch with World Series opponent St. Louis. Rubby De La Rosa (3-4) will face Lance Lynn (11-8) in the opener.
Yankees: New York returns home for a four-game series against the Tigers. Brandon McCarthy (3-0) will face Detroit’s Max Scherzer (13-3) in the opener.