While the Oakland Athletics are facing a fourth straight season without a playoff appearance, they are playing well down the stretch under manager Bob Geren.
The Boston Red Sox are stumbling toward the finish line.
Oakland looks to win its fifth straight over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon when the teams conclude their three-game series at the Coliseum.
Despite being 7 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Texas and trailing by 15 in the wild-card race, the A’s (71-70) have won three in a row and six of eight. Saturday’s 4-3 victory has Oakland in position to move two games above .500 for the first time since on Aug. 8.
“A lot of guys in this clubhouse have never been through this before, and to still have a chance and to have meaningful games in September is huge,” said second baseman Mark Ellis(notes), who is batting .439 during a career-best 11-game hitting streak.
Geren’s ability to reach young players was one of the reasons the club announced prior to Saturday’s game that his contract was exercised for 2011.
Trailing Tampa Bay by 8 1/2 games in the wild-card standings with 20 left, Boston (78-64) might have to start looking toward next season.
The Red Sox, who have dropped six of eight, have also lost eight of 12 on the road. Boston led 2-0 in the seventh inning Saturday before folding.
“We had a good game going but we left some runs out there early and it caught up with us late,” manager Terry Francona said.
The left-hander, who is looking to reach double-digit wins for the first time, has lost his last two starts. Braden surrendered a season high-tying six runs and nine hits over five innings of Tuesday’s 7-5 loss to Seattle. He threw 36 pitches in the Mariners’ five-run second inning.
“Brutal to quite brutal,” Braden said of his outing. “I’ve seen less bleeding at a hemophiliac convention. That was rough.”
Braden faces the Red Sox for the second time this season. He did not earn a decision in a 5-4, 10-inning win on July 20 after allowing four runs—one earned—and 10 hits.
Beckett is 4-3 with a 4.40 ERA in seven career starts versus Oakland.
Braden should also be careful pitching to shortstop Marco Scutaro(notes), who is 8 for 14 with two doubles when facing him. Scutaro, who played for Oakland from 2004-07, hit a solo homer Saturday and is 5 for 10 with three home runs in his last two games.
Boston has lost 17 of 24 in Oakland since July 25, 2006.