Dice-K Returns But Red Sox Fall Under .500

Daisuke Matsuzaka #18 of the Boston Red Sox points to a Washington Nationals baserunner during the fourth inning of the game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

When you figure posting fees and signing bonuses and interpreters and salaries and travel expenses and doctor bills and a dozen other things, the Boston Red Sox invested something like $20 million in the services, for this season alone, of Daisuke Matsuzaka.

For that reason alone, it must have been at least moderately heartening Saturday afternoon when Dice-K climbed a major-league mound for the first time since May 16, 2011; shortly thereafter, he underwent Tommy John surgery and spent the next year rehabbing.

Saturday at Fenway Park, Matsuzaka made it all the way back and pitched decently enough against the Washington Nationals, all things considered. He struck out eight Nationals and walked only one in five innings, but was undone by a three-run fourth, keyed by Mike Morse's automatic double and Ian Desmond's two-run single.

Following Matsuzaka's exit, the Red Sox bullpen locked things down with four scoreless frames. But it didn't matter because the Sox could score only two runs against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez -- who ran his record to 8-2 on the season -- and a quartet of relievers, with Tyler Clippard earning his seventh save.

Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia went 1 for 4, and is now just 2 for 20 since returning to the lineup after suffering a thumb injury a couple of weeks ago. Of more concern, the Red Sox have fallen to 28-29 and still reside in last place, five games behind the first-place Rays. It's still early, but it's getting late.

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