Boston's prolific offense ran into some strong pitching in the Pacific Northwest, and arrives in Oakland struggling for runs.
The Red Sox could be in store for another tough test in Monday night's three-game series opener when the Athletics send Jarrod Parker to the mound.
After averaging 7.4 runs over a 10-game stretch, Boston (42-37) totaled nine runs in four contests with Seattle, but that was good enough to split a series with the AL's worst team. The Red Sox have won 11 of 15 overall to pull within one-half game of Baltimore for the AL's second wild-card spot."They were pitching pretty well," said David Ortiz , who hit the deciding sacrifice fly in the 10th inning of Sunday's 2-1 victory. "You have to pitch extremely well to stop our offense, and they did."
Now the Red Sox, the majors' second-highest scoring team with 406 runs, have the difficult task of trying to get their offense going against Parker (4-3, 2.57 ERA), something they've already failed to do once this season.
Parker didn't get selected to the All-Star game, but the rookie right-hander certainly could make a case to pitch in the Midsummer Classic. After permitting one run and three hits while striking out a career-high nine in seven innings of Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Mariners, he joined Dwight Gooden as the only pitchers to allow one run or fewer in nine of their first 13 starts since 1918.
"That's a nice stat," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website. "It says he's got great stuff, and he can do it in whatever venue. It really doesn't matter to him. When he's throwing the ball over the plate and he's mixing his pitches, he's just a tough guy to square up. We're not even to the halfway point, but we're very pleased at what he's doing. Now did we expect him to be able to pitch games like this? Absolutely."
The Red Sox know to expect a strong showing from Parker, given that he limited to one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 victory at Fenway Park on May 1. Ortiz was hitless in three at-bats against Parker, but was 4 for 7 with two homers and two doubles in the other two games of that series.
Ortiz, who ranks among the AL leaders in homers (21), doubles (24), RBIs (54) and runs (57), will be Boston's lone representative at the All-Star game, marking the first time the club has had only one All-Star since 2001 ( Manny Ramirez ).
While the eight-time All-Star - who is sitting on 399 career home runs - could have trouble against Parker, simply hitting in Oakland also presents quite a challenge. Ortiz is batting .169 with two home runs and five RBIs in 17 road games in this series since 2008, and Boston has lost 10 of its last 14 in Oakland.
The A's (38-42) return home after beating AL West-leading Texas 3-1 on Sunday, salvaging the finale of a four-game set.
Yoenis Cespedes doubled to extend his hitting streak to six games, during which he is batting .409 with five RBIs, and he'll be getting his first look at Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 4.91) in the series opener.
After recording a 6.06 ERA in his first three starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, Matsuzaka allowed one run over 5 2-3 innings of Boston's 5-1 comeback win over Toronto on Tuesday. The right-hander struck out five, walked one, scattered six hits and was done after 100 pitches.
Matsuzaka has typically fared well against the A's, going 4-1 with a 3.69 ERA in seven starts.
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
|June 19, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Left game - right thumb|
|June 18, 2012||Scott Podsednik||15-Day DL||Left groin injury|
|June 17, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Toe discomfort|
|June 17, 2012||Scott Podsednik||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Josh Beckett||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 23, 2012||Collin Cowgill||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|June 20, 2012||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 18, 2012||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 17, 2012||Bartolo Colon||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|June 13, 2012||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|June 06, 2012||Andrew Carignan||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jarrod Parker looked as if he might finally run into a rough start after falling behind just two batters into the game. After that, it was a typical Parker outing.
Parker matched an obscure mark by allowing one run or less for the 10th time in 14 career starts, pitching the Oakland Athletics past the Boston Red Sox 6-1 on Monday night.
"It seems like it's the same game every time," manager Bob Melvin said. "They get one run. Today started off a little spotty for him, a double in the corner and they score a run early. It looked like maybe he didn't have his best stuff. He then certainly did his thing."
Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss homered against their former team to send Daisuke Matsuzaka to an early exit and Parker (5-3) did the rest from there, allowing six hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Parker is the first pitcher since Ferdie Schupp of the New York Giants with a string like this in his first 14 starts, although Schupp was a spot starter who pitched mostly in relief when he did it from 1913-17.
"It's just cool," Parker said. "Obviously it's something I never really thought of and didn't think it was possible at all. It's fun to look at and I'm obviously honored to be compared to those guys. It's awesome. I do what I can and will try to do less than one run every time."
Parker yielded a double to Daniel Nava to start the game, followed by an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia .
But the Red Sox didn't threaten again until they put the first two runners on in the seventh. Parker got Mike Aviles to hit into a forceout and struck out Nick Punto . Sean Doolittle came in and struck out Nava to end the threat, marking the seventh time in Parker's last eight starts he has held the opposition to one run or less.
"Parker was able to throw his off-speed stuff when he was behind in the count," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "He used both sides of the plate with his fastball. A couple of times when we had a threat going, he snuffed it out pretty quickly."
Matsuzaka (0-3) was chased before retiring a batter in the second inning and failed for the sixth time to join Hideo Nomo and Tomo Ohka as the only Japanese pitchers with 50 career wins. Matsuzaka has not won a game since May 8, 2011, against Minnesota and now might be headed back to the disabled list with a stiff neck.
"Dice obviously didn't have his good stuff tonight," Valentine said. "He went out with a big crick in his neck. We were hoping he was going to work through it. As it turns out he didn't work through it."
Reddick, acquired last December in a trade for injured closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney , hit his 19th homer with two outs in the first inning to tie it at 1.
"It's always going to be something special to do well against these guys," Reddick said.
Matsuzaka then failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the second to match the shortest start of his career.
Seth Smith opened the four-run second with a drive to center field that hit off Ryan Kalish 's glove for a double. Derek Norris then walked and Moss hit the next pitch over the right-field fence for his ninth homer in 22 games with Oakland. Moss played 49 games with Boston in 2007-08 but has come into his own with the A's in the past month.
Matsuzaka was replaced by Clayton Mortensen after Brandon Inge singled and Cliff Pennington walked. Reddick added a sacrifice fly that made it 5-1 and closed the line on Matsuzaka, who allowed four hits and walked two.
"My body wasn't in the condition it probably should have been but despite the home run in the first inning, I got out of that inning and I thought I'd be able to fight through a few more innings," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter.
The long balls gave the A's home runs in 13 straight games, their longest streak since doing it in 14 consecutive games early in the 2004 season.
Mortensen helped save the Boston bullpen by pitching five innings, allowing only a sacrifice fly to Inge in the sixth inning.
NOTES: Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks will be out for at least a few days with an injured left hamstring. Valentine said the team would likely bring up another position player on Tuesday and either place Middlebrooks on the DL or send down one of the 13 pitchers. ... Oakland LHP Dallas Braden threw off the mound for the first time since March as he works back from elbow ligament replacement surgery last May. ... A's RHP Bartolo Colon (6-7) is expected to come off a DL stint for a strained right oblique to make his first start since June 17 on Tuesday against Jon Lester (5-5).