The Boston Red Sox are scuffling at the plate, and they may be without Will Middlebrooks awhile.
Josh Reddick hasn't had much trouble swinging the bat against his former team.
With Middlebrooks possibly headed for the disabled list, the Red Sox will try to break out of a brief slump and rebound from a loss to Reddick and the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Boston (42-38) is among the top offensive teams in the majors, ranking second to Texas with 5.09 runs per game, but the Red Sox have hit .215 while totaling 10 runs and losing three of five to begin this West Coast trip.
Those struggles continued in the opener of this three-game series, as the lineup mustered six hits - five singles - in a 6-1 loss at Oakland (39-42) on Monday.
Middlebrooks sat out with an injured hamstring, and he's expected to miss a few more games - with a DL stint possible. The rookie third baseman has given Boston a boost by batting .298 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 48 games, prompting the team to trade Kevin Youkilis .
Reddick may be making the Red Sox wish they hadn't traded him. The right fielder homered in the series opener and is 5 for 15 with two homers and five RBIs in four games against Boston, which dealt him to the A's in the offseason with two minor leaguers for closer Andrew Bailey and right fielder Ryan Sweeney , both currently on the DL.
"It's always going to be something special to do well against these guys," said Reddick, who leads Oakland with 19 homers and 41 RBIs after totaling 10 and 37, respectively, during limited playing time over the previous three years with the Red Sox.
He's 7 for 14 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last four home games.
Jon Lester (5-5, 4.53 ERA) is scheduled to face his former teammate for the first time as he looks to continue his success on the road.
The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last four games as the visitor. He is 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts at Oakland, but he hasn't pitched there since April 13, 2009.
He'll be contending with an A's lineup that has homered in 13 consecutive games.
Lester is coming off his second win in three starts, but he got plenty of help from the offense in Wednesday's 10-4 home victory over Toronto. He was staked to a six-run lead after two innings, pitching seven and allowing four runs and seven hits - two homers.
"It takes some pressure off," Lester told the team's official website. "It's big to have our offense go out there and do that. You can't ask for more from those guys."
That game included the latest homer from David Ortiz , who has 399 for his career. He's 4 for 20 in five games since.
Ortiz is just 5 for 43 (.116) with one homer and 15 strikeouts in his career against Bartolo Colon , who is expected to return from a stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique to start Tuesday.
The right-hander suffered the injury June 17 against San Diego. Colon (6-7, 4.22) allowed one run in two-plus innings in that game but got the loss, falling to 1-5 with a 6.98 ERA in Oakland this year.
He went 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in three games - two starts - against the Red Sox last year while pitching for the New York Yankees .
|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) -- Coco Crisp can't recall a game when he has started the scoring in the first and ended it in the ninth.
Crisp hit a game-winning sacrifice fly to go with his leadoff homer in the first, and the Oakland Athletics rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2 on Tuesday night.
"It's nice," Crisp said. "I don't have that many home runs. I'm not Manny (Ramirez). So, really, there aren't that many opportunities."
The A's got singles from Chris Carter and Cliff Pennington before pinch-hitter Brandon Moss ' tying single against Alfredo Aceves (0-6). Then Crisp delivered his third career walkoff RBI and Oakland's first game-ending sacrifice fly since Dan Johnson had one May 15, 2007, against Kansas City.
"He's the guy you want up in those situations," manager Bob Melvin said. "Every time he comes to the plate, we have a good feeling."
Jerry Blevins (2-0) worked 1 2-3 innings for the victory. The Red Sox squandered a scoring chance in the top of the ninth with two base running blunders, including Ryan Kalish 's caught stealing trying for third.
Jon Lester pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning but had nothing to show for it.
"We're sputtering a little bit. We're not stringing hits together," manager Bobby Valentine said. "We will tomorrow."
Lester matched his season high with nine strikeouts, allowing Crisp's leadoff homer in the first before finding his groove. The left-hander allowed only that run and three more hits in his impressive 107-pitch day.
Crisp's homer on the third pitch of the night from Lester gave the A's longballs in 14 straight games. The 14 straight games with a home run is the longest streak since the 2004 team did so from April 27-May 12. Oakland went 17 consecutive games with a homer from April 12-May 1, 2002.
Crisp's shot stayed just fair of the left-field foul pole for his sixth career leadoff home run and second this year. He also had one last Wednesday at Seattle.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied it with his two-out solo drive in the second. The Red Sox went ahead in the fourth when Oakland first baseman Carter tried to backhand Saltalamacchia's grounder and it bounced off his body for an error, allowing David Ortiz to score from third.
Lester allowed Jonny Gomes ' two-out single in the first then retired the next 12 Oakland batters in order before Kurt Suzuki 's single with two out in the fifth. Lester sure looked sharp despite his 4.53 ERA coming in against the A's that was his fourth-worst mark against an American League opponent.
The A's put runners on second and third with one out in the eighth against Vicente Padilla to bring up top hitter Josh Reddick , who was intentionally walked to load the bases as fans booed. Yoenis Cespedes and Gomes each struck out swinging, and Padilla pumped his fist as he hopped off the mound.
But Boston couldn't hold it - or add on. Along with the caught stealing, Nick Punto popped into a double play in the ninth trying to bunt. Carter made a lunging catch on the play.
" Chris Carter made a heck of a catch to dim that rally and give us some momentum," Crisp said.
Punto took responsibility.
"I didn't get the bunt down," he said. "It's simple fundamentals. I can't make those mistakes."
Bartolo Colon came off the disabled list to pitch for the first time since lasting only two innings June 17 against San Diego because of a strained right oblique muscle.
Colon allowed two runs - one earned - and five hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one. Bob Melvin kept Colon on a shorter leash than usual as a precaution while he works his way back to full strength from the injury. Still, the right-hander threw 87 pitches, 55 for strikes.
The game stopped briefly in the bottom of the third when home plate umpire Brian O'Nora received drops in his left eye from Oakland assistant athletic trainer Walt Horn.
Notes: The Red Sox changed Wednesday starter to Aaron Cook (2-1). ... Boston placed RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list with a stiff neck, a day after he allowed five runs in one-plus inning and failed to retire a batter in the second inning. ... The Red Sox recalled INF Mauro Gomez from Triple-A Pawtucket for a second big league stint this season. ... The DL remains a possibility for Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks (left hamstring). Middlebrooks was able to touch his toes Monday without any spasm or grabbing, which Valentine called "one of those hamstring telltale signs." ... Boston reached a contract termination settlement with pitcher Bobby Jenks and granted his unconditional release. ... The A's designated for assignment LHP Brian Fuentes , the demoted closer, to clear room for Colon's return. ... A's starter Brandon McCarthy 's auction and autograph session - with hard work from wife, Amanda - to help the Colorado wildfire victims raised $10,066. ... The game drew a sellout crowd of 35,067.