Buchholz tries to help the Boston Red Sox avoid a fifth consecutive loss in the opener of a three-game series against the Athletics on Friday night.
After a shaky April, Buchholz (4-3, 3.41 ERA) is coming off an outstanding May during which he went 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in six outings. The right-hander didn’t earn a decision in the last three despite holding batters to a .194 average.
He allowed three runs in six innings of a 4-3 win at Detroit on Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Boston (30-26) hasn’t won since that game, dropping Sunday’s nightcap 3-0 before giving up 24 runs in a three-game sweep to the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.
Boston, which had won 13 of 15 before the losing streak, hasn’t dropped four straight home games this season and hasn’t lost five in a row overall since its 0-6 start.
Buchholz had been 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA against the A’s before beating them April 20, yielding one run in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win.
That was part of a two-game split between the teams, but Oakland enters the rematch struggling to score.
The A’s (27-30) suffered a three-game sweep to the New York Yankees this week as they were held to five runs, including a 4-2 defeat Wednesday.
Oakland, which has averaged 2.8 runs while losing 10 of 15, ranks near the bottom of the majors in batting average (.240), runs scored (202) and home runs (32).
“We haven’t helped (our pitchers) as much as we should have so far this year, but hopefully we can start coming around and putting some consistent games together,” said left fielder Josh Willingham(notes), hitting .189 in his last 12 road games.
The offense doesn’t figure to get much of a reprieve during a 10-game road trip that goes through Boston, Baltimore and Chicago. The Athletics are averaging 3.1 runs and hitting .228 away from home.
Oakland has lost 12 of 16 in Boston.
One of its struggling hitters has enjoyed Fenway Park. Hideki Matsui(notes) has batted .326 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in his last 37 games there, though he enters this series in a 3-for-25 slump and batting .222 for the season.
Outman pitched well in his first two starts following Tommy John surgery, which kept him sidelined last year. After holding the Los Angeles Angels to one run in seven innings May 23, he beat Baltimore on Saturday by allowing two runs in six innings of a 4-2 win.
The win was his first since June 8, 2009, against Minnesota. The left-hander has never faced the Red Sox.
“With the pitching that we have, we’re a tough team to beat when the offense is there,” manager Bob Geren said.