A perfect homestand has helped solidify the Boston Red Sox’s spot atop the AL East standings.
The Red Sox look to extend their longest winning streak in almost two years when they face the Oakland Athletics to open a 10-game road trip Friday night.
Boston (31-19) beat Kansas City 11-8 on Thursday to conclude a 7-0 homestand that began with a sweep of Milwaukee. The Red Sox has lost four straight going into the home stretch and were 1 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the division, but now head to the Bay Area with a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place Rays.
The Red Sox will try to win eight in a row for the first time since a 12-game run from June 16-29, 2006.
“Everybody feels like they’re doing something for us, and they are,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
“It closed a nice homestand for us,” said Lowell, batting .348 with six homers and 19 RBIs in his last 17 games.
Tim Wakefield (3-2, 4.33 ERA) takes the mound for the Red Sox on Friday. The right-hander, who allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings but didn’t get the decision in a 7-6 win over the Brewers on Saturday, is 9-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 24 starts against Oakland.
Boston makes its second trip to Oakland after sweeping a two-game series from the A’s on April 1-2, one week after each team won a game during their season-opening series in Japan.
Oakland (25-23) defeated Tampa Bay 9-1 at home Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak. The victory was just the third in 12 contests for the A’s, who are second in the AL West.
“This is a big win for us,” said Oakland’s Dana Eveland, who pitched a three-hitter Wednesday. “I love seeing these guys swing the bat.”
Cust is 6-for-16 with three homers in his last five contests, while Crosby bounced back after going 0-for-9 in his previous two games.
Rich Harden (2-0, 2.91) will make his third start since spending five weeks on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, and third against Boston this season.
Harden is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA versus the Red Sox in 2008, but 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA in four career starts against them.
The right-hander allowed a run and four hits in seven innings while throwing 102 pitches to earn the victory in a 5-4 win at Atlanta on Saturday.
“It was really kind of a normal game for him,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “We didn’t want him to throw much more than 100 pitches. We’re kind of taking it one game at a time.”
The A’s hope to have second baseman Mark Ellis back in the lineup Friday after he missed nine games with a sore left shoulder. Though Ellis is hitting just .242, he’s 6-for-14 lifetime against Wakefield.