NEW YORK -- Making his first big league start in over a year, Clay Buchholz gave the D-backs all they could have asked for, but it was still not enough to help snap them out of their losing ways, as they fell, 4-1, to the Mets on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
The D-backs lost all three games to the Mets this weekend, and have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
Buchholz, 33, last appeared in a big league game on April 11 last year, also against the Mets. He left that game due to injury, and had surgery a week later to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right arm.
His long road back included a stint this year with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, before exercising an opt out in his contract and signing with the D-backs on May 5.
"It took a lot more time to get back to this point than I was expecting to," Buchholz said. "That's the way the game is. You've got a lot of young players coming up who are really good. It's pushing that veteran core that was there. The 10-12 years that I've been doing it, [opportunities are] few and far between now. You've got to work hard, prepare better and do it that way."
Early on, Buchholz showed little rust as he worked through the Mets lineup.
After a first-inning double by Wilmer Flores, Buchholz did not allow another hit through five scoreless innings as the D-backs built a 1-0 lead behind a Jeff Mathis RBI groundout against Noah Syndergaard.
"The fastball, curveball, changeup combination was great," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "It was good to have him back in the big leagues."
Lovullo did not want to push his luck with Buchholz, so he planned on having the veteran face ninth-place hitter Amed Rosario to open the sixth, and then turn to the bullpen before the Mets' hitters got a chance to face him for the third time.
Rosario, though, homered to left to tie the game before Lovullo went to the bullpen.
"The matchup, I liked that matchup and it's just unfortunate that it didn't work out for him," Lovullo said.
The bullpen has been an area of strength for the D-backs all year long, but it was a rough weekend for them.
Saturday, a 4-2 eighth-inning lead turned into a 5-4 loss, and a three-run seventh off the 'pen turned things in favor of the Mets on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, the bullpen didn't execute today," Lovullo said. "They've been doing a great job throughout the course of the year. When one area doesn't do their job, it's time for another area to step up. Unfortunately, it was a tough series. We're struggling, no doubt about it. But this group is staying together, they are accountable and just pressing on."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
If only: When Jarrod Dyson led off the seventh with a single and advanced to second on a one-out groundout, it caused the pitcher's spot to come up in the inning. With the game tied at 1, Lovullo decided to pinch-hit for reliever T.J. McFarland, who had been impressive in getting through the sixth inning. Ketel Marte grounded out to end the seventh, and then Jorge De La Rosa came on to pitch the bottom of the inning for Arizona and allowed three runs on a pair of homers.
"We were at a tough part in the lineup where we can't really double-switch," Lovullo said. "T.J. would have gone back out and had [Dyson] remained at first base, T.J. probably would have hit. Just didn't work out. We felt like with a man in scoring position, we had to go all in."
Dyson, who tied a career-high with three hits, is 5-for-5 in his career against Syndergaard, with three hits coming on the first pitch.
"A guy like that, you can't fall behind, because he's got put-away stuff," Dyson said of Syndergaard. "I go up there looking for something good to hit."
HE SAID IT
"It was fun getting back out there. It stinks to lose, but this ballclub has a lot of wins in it." -- Buchholz, on his return to the big leagues
The D-backs open a three-game series with the Brewers on Monday night at Miller Park with former Milwaukee right-hander Zack Greinke on the mound. The D-backs and Brewers hooked up last week at Chase Field, with the Brewers capturing two of the three games. Greinke pitched for the Brewers in 2011 and 2012. Milwaukee will send Chase Anderson to the mound, with first pitch set for 4:40 p.m. MST.