BOSTON — Clay Buchholz has one week to think about his next start.
Or, even better, not to think about it.
Manager Terry Francona said Buchholz was still in line to follow Jon Lester and Josh Beckett in the rotation for the first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Angels, even after the Red Sox righthander lasted just three innings in a 12-7 victory over Cleveland on Sunday.
“He shook off Victor [Martinez] too much, and I think he was just thinking too much,” Francona said. “We certainly would have rather he pitched a gem. He’ll have a chance for another good side session and get him back going in the right direction.”
The Red Sox (95-67) will open the playoffs on either Wednesday or Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. Buchholz would start Game 3 in Boston on Sunday.
“That’s what you want: You want to be able to go out there in a make-or-break situation,” said Buchholz, who has given up 13 runs in eight innings in his last two starts. “I’d rather it be now than a week from now. I’ll take care of the little things I need to between now and then.”
J.D. Drew homered twice, and Jed Lowrie hit his first career grand slam in the regular-season finale. Dustin Pedroia and Alex Gonzalez also homered for Boston and Michael Bowden (1-1) pitched 2ª innings in relief for the win.
Lowrie’s homer made it 12-6 in the sixth inning, but it cost David Ortiz — hitting behind the Boston infielder — his best chance at reaching 100 RBIs for the sixth time in seven years. Ortiz, who was batting .185 with one homer and 18 RBIs on June 1, finished with a .238 average, 28 homers and 99 RBIs for the season.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Ortiz said. “It’s a hard game. Sometimes in bad situations you get to learn something; I think I learned a lot this year.”
The loss was the last in Cleveland for manager Eric Wedge, who was fired on Wednesday with six games left in the season. The Indians went 1-5 since then, finishing with a club-record 15 consecutive road losses and 97 in all — seventh-most in club history and the most since 1991.
“I think everybody handled a tough situation appropriately — the organization and I think our players under tough circumstances,” said Wedge, who was 561-573. “It’s time for everybody to go home and rest up and see what happens.”
Tomo Ohka (1-5) gave up seven runs and six hits and two walks, striking out four for the Indians.
Buchholz gave up a career-high five homers in his previous start, and this one started out much in the same way. Luis Valbuena hit the third pitch over the Green Monster, and the Indians added five more in the third to make it 6-4 on a bases-loaded walk, a two-run single by Jhonny Peralta and Andy Marte’s two-run double.
But Boston made it 6-5 in the fourth on Drew’s solo homer, then took the lead in the fifth on Pedroia’s two-run shot. Drew led off the sixth with another homer, then Boston loaded the bases with two outs and Lowrie hit his second homer of the year into the Red Sox bullpen.
Ortiz, who was on deck at the time, slammed the doughnut off his bat and walked to the plate to congratulate Lowrie. Then he struck out to end the inning. He struck out on a check swing with runners on first and second to end the eighth.
Buchholz gave up six runs and five hits and two walks.
Jacoby Ellsbury stole his 70th base to extend his club record, and with a .301 average he became the 12th major-leaguer with at least 70 stolen bases and a .300 batting average.
NOTES: It was Drew’s 15th career multihomer game, and his third of the season. … Matt LaPorta left the game in the seventh with a left big toe sprain. … C Jason Varitek was removed mid-inning for a defensive replacement, allowing the crowd to give the Red Sox captain a standing ovation. … Gonzalez was back in the lineup after getting hit by a pitch on the hand Friday and sitting out Saturday’s game. … The Red Sox set a franchise attendance record of 3,062,699. … The Red Sox reached 95 wins for the fifth time in six years. … Jason Bay did not make an error this season, becoming the fourth qualifying Red Sox outfielder with a 1.000 fielding per-centage (Ellsbury 2008, Carl Yastrzemski 1977 and Ken Harrelson 1968).