The Minnesota Twins nearly handed Clay Buchholz his first loss of the season 11 days ago.
Now, the Twins will have another chance to send Buchholz home a loser as they host the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Buchholz (6-0, 1.69 ERA) was outstanding en route to six straight wins to begin the season, posting a 1.01 ERA during that span. In his seventh start, however, he surrendered a season-high four runs in Boston's 6-5 win over Minnesota (18-19) on May 6. Buchholz left the game trailing 4-2, but the Red Sox (24-17) rallied and spared the right-hander his first loss.
Against Toronto on Saturday, it was a similar story as Buchholz allowed two runs over eight innings, but left with a 2-0 deficit. Boston rallied again to get Buchholz off the hook before falling 3-2.
"Left a couple pitches up with runners in scoring position. They were able to put a bat on it,'' Buchholz said. "I've got to make better pitches at that point in the game.''
Buchholz now returns to the road where he has posted a 0.64 ERA in two starts. Prior to his four-strikeout performance against the Blue Jays, he had struck out eight-plus in three straight starts.
While Buchholz has soared back from a rough 2012, Minnesota's Vance Worley (1-4, 7.15) hasn't been quite as lucky. Worley has gone 7-13 since posting an 11-3 record in 2011 with Philadelphia. After allowing 10 home runs in 2011, and 12 last year, the right-hander has already surrendered six this season. Opposing batters are hitting .379 off of him.
Worley's last three starts have been particularly rough, as he has given up 30 hits in 15 innings while compiling an 8.40 ERA. That included a rough start against the Red Sox, who roughed him up for three runs and nine hits in five innings May 6. He surrendered five runs and 11 hits over 5 1-3 innings against Baltimore on Saturday, but hung around long enough to earn his first victory in 13 starts dating back to Aug. 1.
He settled down to allow two runs over 4 1-3 innings after giving up three in the first inning to the Orioles.
"After that I went out there and I wasn't thinking so much,'' Worley said. "I'm here for a reason. I got to the big leagues pitching and I don't need to think too much about what I need to do out there, just make my pitches.''
Worley will look to do a better job of taming Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino this time around. Victorino went 3 for 3 with a home run against Worley in their last meeting. He shortly thereafter began an 8-for-19 streak that then led into a slump consisting of 11 straight at-bats without a hit. He put an end to that cold stretch in Thursday's 4-3 comeback victory over Tampa Bay with a double in the fourth inning.
Victorino, though, left after the eighth with lower back tightness.
''We'll check him tomorrow,'' manager John Farrell said. ''He's a little banged up right now.''
Boston scored three runs in the ninth off Rays closer Fernando Rodney to win its second straight after a three-game skid.
The Twins won three of four at Fenway Park earlier this month, but have lost five of six meetings at home.