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Six months after pitching a no-hitter, Clay Buchholz looked like he might not get an out.
In his 2008 spring training debut, Boston's rookie right-hander allowed hits to the first five batters he faced Sunday and took the loss in the Minnesota Twins' 8-2 win.
Buchholz is trying to nail down the fifth spot in the Red Sox rotation and knows at least one thing he must show manager Terry Francona to reach that goal.
"I've got to be able to get outs and not give up four runs in an inning. I know that," he said. "It didn't happen to me all that much last year so it's a little bitter right now."
A newcomer to the Twins pitching staff has no worries about making their rotation. Livan Hernandez, who signed a one-year contract on Feb. 12, allowed one run in the first two innings Sunday and picked up the win.
Hernandez provides a veteran presence in a young rotation that lost Johan Santana in a trade to the New York Mets. Boston's vacancy was created by a shoulder injury that is expected to sideline Curt Schilling at least half the season.
Bartolo Colon is scheduled to pitch his first bullpen session Monday, one week after signing a one-year, minor-league deal with Boston. He or Julian Tavarez could emerge as the fifth starter.
"There's probably four or five guys here that are fighting for one spot," Buchholz said. "I like competing against everybody and that's what it's all about. If they were just going to give it to you, you'd take it for granted and that's not how it should work."
Last Sept. 1, Buchholz pitched a no-hitter against Baltimore in his second major-league start, a performance that he said Sunday may have raised expectations for him. That started a stretch of three games in which he allowed six hits in 16 2-3 innings. He finished at 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four appearances.
On Sunday, he gave up five hits before recording his first out.
The no-hitter "was probably the longest night of my life," Buchholz said. "The game seemed like it was eight hours long. It didn't seem the ninth inning was ever going to roll around. But now when I look back on it, it feels like it was in the middle of last season rather than the end."
He started the third inning Sunday after Tim Wakefield blanked the Twins in the first two.
Buchholz allowed a homer to his first batter, Jon Knott, on a 1-2 pitch. Then Adam Everett doubled, Denard Span singled, Nick Punto singled in a run and Michael Cuddyer doubled in two runs. He then allowed Cuddyer to steal third.
"The game speeds up. He lets the guy steal third," Francona said. "Those are things that we forget — because his stuff's good and he has success — that he's young. I think the game got a little quick for him in that inning and maybe that's not so bad."
Cuddyer never scored as Buchholz retired Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel, walked Mike Redmond and struck out Brian Buscher. Then he set down the side in order in the third.
"I just told myself I was trying to throw a little bit too hard, I think, in the first inning," Buchholz said. "When I got back out there ... I just tried to let the pitches work instead of trying to make them work."
The Twins scored their other four runs in the ninth off Craig Hansen on two-run singles by Jason Pridie and Howie Clark. Hansen walked three and hit a batter.
Lowell homered off Hernandez in the second and Dustin Pedroia singled in a run in the fifth off Dennys Reyes.
"I feel good," Hernandez said. "They've got the best lineup in baseball. The only way you get people out is not make a mistake and I made one today and he hit a home run."
Hernandez moved from one young team, Arizona, to another. The Diamondbacks made the NL championship series, where they lost to Colorado. Hernandez went 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA in 33 start in the regular season. He was the losing pitcher in Game 3 against the Rockies, who then were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.
"Nobody counted on Arizona making the playoffs and everybody used that (as motivation) for going on the field and giving 100 percent," Hernandez said. "Here, you've got to think the same way."
That may not be enough in the strong to beat out Detroit and Cleveland in the AL Central, but Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire is happy to have Hernandez.
"He was just flipping it up there, not afraid to throw any pitch at any time," Gardenhire said. "He looked like he fit right in.
This program aired on March 3, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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