Sunday June 10, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- A year after having reconstructive elbow surgery, Daisuke Matsuzaka made an emotional return to Fenway Park.

In the end, the prevailing emotion was disappointment from Matsuzaka and the slumping Boston Red Sox.

Matsuzaka struck out eight over five innings in his first major-league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery, but struggled at times and the Washington Nationals spoiled his return in a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Saturday.

"Every time you pitch you want to give your team a chance to win. Losing today was very disappointing," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "But I think I did leave some positives for my next start. I definitely think I pitched better than I had been during my rehab assignment."

Matsuzaka (0-1) gave up four runs and five hits, including Adam LaRoche’s solo homer in the second, in five innings.

He walked just one, but it was Bryce Harper to lead off the fourth and started a rally as the Nationals built a 4-0 lead.

"What hurt me most today was that one walk," Matsuzaka said. "That’s an area that I wish I could take back."

Matsuzaka’s return came just one day shy of the one-year anniversary of his surgery. He had eight rehab starts, but said Saturday was completely different.

"There were a lot of emotions going through me throughout this week and today on the mound," he said. "Today, brought back a lot of memories especially from the fans and stadium itself that I’ve had over the past five years. That really made me appreciate even more all the support I’ve had throughout my rehab process."

The Red Sox have lost five of six, dropped below .500 (29-30) and are 1-4 on a six-game homestand that concludes today.