When Oakland and Boston last met in early July, the Athletics were a bit of an afterthought in the playoff picture while the Red Sox were just off the cut for the wild card.
A three-game sweep by the Athletics essentially spurred their playoff push and initiated Boston's unraveling.
The surging A's try to match last season's win total and also beat the Red Sox for a sixth straight time in Friday night's series opener in Oakland.
The A's (73-57) return home after defeating Cleveland 12-7 on Thursday to win the final six contests of a seven-game road trip. They've won 12 of 14 overall to open a one-game lead over Baltimore for the AL's top wild-card spot.
"No one expected us to do anything," outfielder Josh Reddick told the Athletics' official website. "Obviously we're opening a lot of eyes and surprising a lot of people, and that's what we enjoy."
Oakland shouldn't be sneaking up on anyone anymore, having gone a major league-best 36-15 since July 1. A July 2-4 sweep of a Red Sox club that was a season-high five games over .500 at the time was part of a 9-1 stretch for Oakland.
That sweep at the hands of the A's began a five-game losing streak for Boston, and the Red Sox (62-70) never seemed to completely recover.
They arrive in Oakland after suffering a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Angels and have dropped eight of 11 to fall a season-worst eight games under .500. Jacoby Ellsbury was hitless in his final nine at-bats in Anaheim.
The Red Sox beat the A's 11-6 on April 30 in the first meeting of the season series, but have totaled 10 runs while losing the last five matchups. The five straight wins marks Oakland's longest single-season winning streak over Boston since 1992, and the Athletics haven't won six straight over Boston since 1969.
Reddick, who spent his first three seasons with the Red Sox before being traded in December, has two home runs and five RBIs in six games against his former team. He enters this series batting .522 with two homers and five RBIs during a five-game hitting streak.
While Oakland's offense has erupted for 27 runs in its last three games, the team's pitching staff has a major league-best 2.74 ERA since Aug. 16.
Brandon McCarthy (7-5, 3.12 ERA) takes the ball Friday after an encouraging outing, in which he allowed two runs and four hits while striking out seven in seven innings of Saturday's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. The right-hander had been 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA in his first three starts after a two-month stint on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder.
"I worked on some things and worked on my arm slot to try to get back to where I needed to be," McCarthy said. "It was just too high."
With the victory over the Rays, McCarthy improved to 9-0 in 14 starts against the AL East since 2009. That includes a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox on May 2, when he gave up one run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Boston counters with Aaron Cook (3-7, 4.76), who gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of a 12-inning, 10-9 loss to Kansas City on Saturday. It was the sixth time in 12 starts the sinkerballer didn't record a strikeout.
In his only start of the season against the A's on July 4, Cook allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings of a 3-2 loss.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 25, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Aggravated right Achilles strain|
|August 25, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 24, 2012||Franklin Morales||15-Day DL||Left shoulder fatigue|
|August 20, 2012||Carl Crawford||Day-to-Day||Left elbow surgery|
|August 20, 2012||Carl Crawford||15-Day DL||Left elbow surgery - out for season|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
|August 18, 2012||Jordan Norberto||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Dislocated right shoulder|
|August 12, 2012||Brandon Inge||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right shoulder|
|August 07, 2012||Eric Sogard||15-Day DL||Strained back|
|August 05, 2012||A.J. Griffin||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|August 04, 2012||A.J. Griffin||Day-to-Day||Sore right shoulder|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- At one point late in Friday night's game, Josh Reddick hustled up to the clubhouse for a quick protein bar when he saw that Coco Crisp was hitting again. Reddick ran back down to the field before his turn came up again.
The Oakland Athletics experienced one of those rare offensive nights when nearly everything that could go right did. For everybody, too.
Brandon Moss had career highs of four hits, four RBIs and four runs, Reddick hit his first career grand slam, and the surging, surprising A's routed the Boston Red Sox 20-2 to match their best winning streak of the season at seven.
"It's fun, everybody's running to the bat rack ready to bat," Reddick said. "You can't wait to get in the batter's box."
What a way to head into the season's final month. And what a thump for Boston the week it unloaded its roster.
Josh Donaldson homered for the third straight game with a two-run shot and Moss also had a two-run drive to go with two RBI doubles to help back Brandon McCarthy (8-5) with a season high in runs.
Reddick connected for his 28th homer in the seventh off Mark Melancon as the A's scored their most runs since a 23-2 win over Texas on Sept. 30, 2000. They handed the Red Sox their most lopsided loss since a 22-1 defeat to the Yankees on June 19, 2000.
The A's had a season-best 19 hits and scored 20 runs for the fourth time in Oakland history, while Boston allowed 20 for the first time since Aug. 21, 2009, against the Yankees. Oakland has won six straight over Boston - the Red Sox's longest skid in the series since also dropping six straight in 1969.
"It wasn't any fun for anyone, that's for sure, except for the guys on the other side," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
George Kottaras had his first career two-homer game with a two-run drive and a solo shot on the way to a career-best five RBIs for Oakland (74-57), which matched its win total from 2011 and wrapped up an 18-10 August. The A's hit a season-high five home runs a day after getting four at Cleveland.
Oakland's nine-run seventh inning was the club's biggest since a nine-run frame last July 27 against Tampa Bay.
Jonny Gomes drove in two runs on a night he helped honor the Little League World Series players from his hometown of Petaluma in Northern California's wine country.
"I don't know that I can ask for much more than 20 runs," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Donaldson added his third RBI on an error in the seventh, but was lifted for pinch-runner Adam Rosales at third after feeling some tightness in his right hip flexor. He hoped to play Saturday.
McCarthy won consecutive starts for the first time since June, and it was good timing with the A's leading Baltimore by a game in the AL wild-card race heading into the final month. The right-hander missed all of July while on the disabled list for a second time this year nursing a strained throwing shoulder.
Donaldson connected for his fifth home run of the year in Oakland's four-run second against Aaron Cook (3-8), who also surrendered an RBI double to Moss and a run-scoring single by Gomes during the inning.
Cook went just 2 2-3 innings to match his shortest outing of the season. The right-hander was tagged for six runs and seven hits and fell to 0-3 over his last four starts.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-out solo homer in the fourth for Boston, which lost its fourth straight game after being swept by the Angels in Los Angeles.
"Nothing to talk about. The score was 20-2!" second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
Oakland returned from a 6-1 road trip to notch another impressive win on a night when the Petaluma Little Leaguers, third in the Little League World Series, played catch with the A's on the field before the game and were honored in a pregame ceremony.
While Oakland is expected to activate third Brandon Inge from the disabled list when rosters expand Saturday, Melvin will have a tough time taking Donaldson's hot bat out of the lineup - as long as he is still healthy. Inge has been on the DL since Aug. 12 with a sprained right shoulder.
Second baseman Cliff Pennington made a great catch on a shallow fly ball by Jacoby Ellsbury to end the third, sprinting backward to complete the play, then hit an RBI double in the seventh. Stephen Drew also got into the seventh-inning fun with an RBI single. Everybody on the Oakland roster scored.
Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single for the new-look Red Sox, who last week sent a handful of former stars to Southern California to join the Los Angeles Dodgers as they try to make a push in the NL West against the first-place San Francisco Giants .
Notes: Red Sox DH David Ortiz could rejoin the club at Seattle early next week or once the team gets back home after he received an injection in his strained right Achilles that landed him on the DL this past Monday. ... A.J. Griffin (3-0) will be recalled by Oakland to start Saturday as LHP Brett Anderson gets an extra day of rest before pitching Sunday. ... Oakland leads the season series 6-1 and has won more than five games in a single year against the Red Sox for the first time since going 7-3 in 2006, the A's last year in the playoffs. ... Oakland recalled RHP Pedro Figueroa from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned RHP Jim Miller to Class-A Stockton. With Sacramento in the playoffs and Stockton's season about to end, Miller is eligible to rejoin the A's Tuesday and that's the plan. ... The 18 runs allowed by Boston matched its most of 2012, April 17 against Texas. The Red Sox gave up nine runs in an inning for the first time since Sept. 27, 2006, against the Rays.