Red Sox rely on Buchholz in middle tilt with Brewers

( - Clay Buchholz was as good any pitcher in baseball for the first half of last season. He'll try to reclaim that form on Saturday when the Boston Red Sox continue a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Fenway Park.

Buchholz raced out to a 12-1 mark last season and a 1.74 ERA. Neck and shoulder ailments, though, kept him on the shelf for three months, but he still wound up finishing the season, 14-2.

Despite looking like the best pitcher in baseball at times a year ago Buchholz is slotted in as the Red Sox' fifth starter as this season begins following a spring that saw him pitch to a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings.

"When we laid out the rotation, each guy is involved," Boston manager John Farrell said. "This wasn't a matter of an ego, saying, 'I should be higher.' It was a matter of him being ready physically when the season began."

Buchholz is also a perfect 4-0 with a 3.26 ERA in five career interleague starts. However, he's never faced the Brewers.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, will counter with righty Wily Peralta, who went 11-15 with a 4.37 ERA in 2013. However, he is only 1-3 with a 3.60 in four interleague appearances.

Milwaukee spoiled Boston's championship celebration in Friday's opener, as Lyle Overbay stroked a two-run double in the ninth inning to lift the Brewers to a 6-2 win. Carlos Gomez finished 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI and Jonathan Lucroy went 2-for-3 with a solo homer for Milwaukee, which dropped two of three to Atlanta in its opening series.

Marco Estrada allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits while fanning six over 5 2/3 innings. Brandon Kintzler (1-0) worked a perfect eighth inning to earn the win.

"It was hard to feel that ball. I'm not going to lie," said Estrada. "I didn't really have fastball command today, but I felt I made the right pitch when I needed to."

Will Middlebrooks hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who received their 2013 World Series rings in a ceremony before the game.

Edward Mujica (0-1) gave up all four runs in the ninth to absorb the loss. Starter Jake Peavy surrendered two runs on six hits over six innings.

The teams last met in 2011 at Fenway, with the Red Sox taking two of the three games.