Atlanta - 030 101 000 - 5 12 2 Red Sox - 101 000 001 - 3 10 0Clay Buchholz (6.1-8-5-4-2, 104) had extreme difficulty with the lower third of Atlanta's order. The 7-8-9 hitters scored all five runs against Buchholz as Atlanta snapped its eight-game losing streak. Boston's four-game winning streak also came to an end.
After Hanley Ramirez's RBI-single gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the first inning (Boston has outscored its opponents 30-5 in the first inning of the last 18 games), Atlanta came storming back. With one out, Buchholz walked Jace Peterson and Erick Aybar was safe on an infield single. Mallex Smith hit a ground-rule double into the right field corner, tying the game at 1-1. Nick Markakis (4-for-5) lined a single to left-center, scoring two more runs.
Boston got one run back in the third when Xander Bogaerts doubled and scored on Ramirez's two-bagger.
In the fourth, Buchholz walked Peterson again. Aybar reached on a force play, moved up on a groundout from Smith, and scored on Markakis's single. Buchholz walked Peterson for the third time to start the sixth and he came around to score on Smith's single.
The Red Sox's best chance to rally came in the seventh against former Boston reliever Alexi Ogando. Christian Vazquez grounded a single to right and Mookie Betts walked. With the potential tying run at the plate, Dustin Pedroia flied to right; Vazquez tagged and went to third. A passed ball put Betts on second. Bogaerts struck out and lefty Hunter Cervenka came out of the bullpen to retire David Ortiz on a grounder to second.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Betts singled and took second on indifference. Pedroia's single off the Wall scored Betts and made it 5-3. Again, Boston had the tying run at the plate. But Bogaerts grounded Arodys Vizcaino's first pitch into the shortstop hole, and Pedroia was forced at second by Aybar to end the game.
Ramirez finished with two singles and a double. ... Betts's ninth-inning single extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Bogaerts doubled and walked twice.
NESN Note: In the top of the eighth, NESN's Dave O'Brien wondered if the Red Sox's inability to score runs (on a Thursday night) was in any way tied to the team's early morning flight to Atlanta on Monday after Sunday night's late game. (Never mind that the team played and won two games in Atlanta, took another night flight to Boston, and then played yet another kick-ass game in the meantime.) It's one thing to wonder such a thing, it's another to say it out loud over the air. Jerry Remy likely thought O'Brien had momentarily lost his mind, but he was very polite when he responded.