BOSTON (AP) — Clay Buchholz lost for the first time this season, and the AL East champion Boston Red Sox rested a couple of regulars while falling to Mark Buehrle and the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Saturday night.
A day after the Red Sox clinched the division title, they lost for just the sixth time in 21 games. Manager John Farrell didn’t start second baseman Dustin Pedroia and first baseman Mike Napoli, and used starter Ryan Dempster for an inning of relief.
Buchholz (11-1) gave up two earned runs on six hits and two walks in six innings. He had pitched 11 scoreless innings in his previous two starts, his first since spending three months on the disabled list with a strained neck.
Buchholz was the first Boston pitcher to start a season 11-0 in his initial 14 starts since Roger Clemens went 13-0 in 1986.
Boston’s lead over Oakland dropped to 1 1/2 games for the AL’s best record and home-field throughout the postseason.
Dempster made his first relief appearance since 2007, working a scoreless eighth. Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks shifted to first for the first time in his career.
Jonny Gomes and David Ross each drove in a run for the Red Sox.
Adam Lind’s RBI double highlighted a three-run fourth that carried the Blue Jays.
Buehrle (12-9) held Boston to one run for the third time in five starts that he’s faced them this year. He allowed five hits, striking out five without walking a batter. He reached 200 innings for the 13th straight season.
Casey Janssen pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 35 chances.
Toronto’s Munenori Kawasaki was ejected by first base umpire Eric Cooper in the eighth after slamming his helmet when he was called out on a close play.
The Blue Jays scored all three runs with two outs in the fourth after Brett Lawrie beat out a routine grounder to short for an infield hit. Lind followed with an RBI double, Rajai Davis added a run-scoring single and Moises Sierra scored from third on Buchholz’s errant pickoff throw to first.
Gomes’ RBI single cut it to 3-1 in the sixth. Ross’ run-scoring grounder sliced it to 3-2 in the seventh after Xander Bogaerts reached second on Lawrie’s fielding error at third base.
J.P. Arencibia snapped an 0-for-27 stretch with an RBI single off the Green Monster in the Toronto ninth.
NOTES: Pedroia had started 151 of the team’s initial 152 games. He pinch-hit in the seventh and struck out. “The hardest thing is he’s not going to know what to do,” Farrell said, joking before the game. “He may end up back on the field because we want to get him the heck out of the dugout.” … Middlebrooks knew things would be a different in his debut at first. “I’ve never played first in my life,” he said, standing on the field after batting practice. “The hardest thing for me is going to be how to try and hold the runners on, which way to stand with my footwork.” … Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury, sidelined for his 14th straight game with a broken small bone in his right foot, ran and hit in the cage. The club is planning for his return before the end of the regular season. … Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.15 ERA) goes for Boston against R.A. Dickey (13-12, 4.21 ERA) in the series — and Boston’s home— finale Sunday.