Although the Boston Red Sox's offense may have taken a step back, Clay Buchholz hopes to build on his promising return to the rotation while extending the team's franchise-record stretch on the mound.
As the right-hander makes his second start off the disabled list, the Red Sox will try to limit an opponent to three runs or fewer for a 14th straight home game when they continue their series with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Boston (38-45) averaged 2.4 runs while hitting .215 over a 14-game stretch before scoring eight with 12 hits Sunday to complete a series victory at Yankee Stadium. But the offense regressed badly Monday, going hitless off Chicago's Jake Arrieta until Stephen Drew's two-out single in the eighth inning of a 2-0 loss.
A.J. Pierzynski - 5 for 43 in his previous 12 games - added a single in the ninth, but the two hits matched a season low as the Red Sox's three-game home winning streak ended. Drew (3 for 39) and Xander Bogaerts (2 for 38) are among the others mired in slumps.
''We just ran into a guy that was on his game,'' second baseman Dustin Pedroia insisted. ''He was really good. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat and come out tomorrow and play well.''
Boston will try to bounce back and provide some run support for Buchholz (3-4, 6.75 ERA), who looks to win his second straight start following a month's absence due to a hyperextended left knee.
After allowing three runs on two homers in the second inning Wednesday, the right-hander gave up one run the rest of the way in a 5-4 win at Seattle for his first victory since May 2. He was efficient while throwing 76 pitches over a season-high 7 1-3 innings.
"(Buchholz) was outstanding," manager John Farrell said. "With the exception of a three-hitter span in the second inning, he really settled in from the third inning on."
Though he's 1-2 with an 8.66 ERA in four home starts this season, Buchholz hopes to help extend Boston's streak of allowing three runs or less at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have posted a 1.34 ERA over this 13-game run, snapping the franchise record Monday that was set in 1914 and equaled the following year.
The Cubs (35-46), who won the opener with only five hits, have averaged 2.9 runs and batted .203 during a 4-6 stretch.
Nate Schierholtz went 2 for 4 with a two-run home run after going 2 for 23 over his previous nine contests, though slugger Anthony Rizzo went hitless and is 4 for 24 without a home run or an RBI over his last six.
Chicago will likely need its offense to score more than a few runs with Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22) taking the mound. He's 1-3 with a 7.29 ERA in his last four starts after giving up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in Wednesday's 4-1 home loss to Cincinnati.
The right-hander has gone 1-6 with a 6.70 ERA in eight road outings in 2014. He's also 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA in six career starts at Fenway Park - none since 2009.
David Ortiz is 9 for 20 with two home runs lifetime when facing Jackson, but Mike Napoli has gone just 1 for 9 with four strikeouts.