Red Sox 11, Athletics 0

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BOSTON (AP)—The Red Sox are back together and back home, and they think that may be the solution to their problems.

“This is the 2004 Red Sox that you see,” first baseman Kevin Millar said Tuesday night after Boston turned the halfway point in the season with an 11-0 rout of the Oakland Athletics. “This is the first time we’re back in our house with our lineup.”

Tim Wakefield pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and Johnny Damon singled five times as Boston rebounded from a horrible trip to beat a potential rival in the playoff race. Oakland and Texas are tied for first in the AL West, two games ahead of the Red Sox in the wild-card standings; Boston trails the Yankees by seven games in the East.

“We both know where we stand and we both know we are fighting for the same thing right now,” said Wakefield, who won for the first time since May 23. “It was huge for all the guys in the clubhouse in there. We needed to win this one.”

Winless in seven previous starts, Wakefield (5-5) did not allow a runner until Marco Scutaro hit a liner that drifted away from right fielder Trot Nixon for a double with two outs in the third. Only one other batter reached second against Wakefield, who struck out six and walked one.

Bill Mueller hit a three-run homer in the second, and the Red Sox scored four times in the fourth off Barry Zito (4-6) and again in the fifth off Justin Lehr.

Zito allowed seven runs—six earned—on nine hits and three walks in four innings, walking in two runs in the fourth. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner is winless in five starts.

“A lot of pitches they hit were good pitches,” he said. “I had great stuff. The preparation was great.”

The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park after going 1-5 on the road, including a three-game sweep by the division-leading Yankees. Boston is 29-31 since May 1, squandering a three-game lead in the division to fall as many as 8 1/2 games behind New York.

Coming back to familiar surroundings seem to help: The Red Sox improved to 26-14 at home this season; they are five games under .500 on the road.

Oakland had won eight of its previous 11 but the A’s have dropped 14 of their last 20 on the road.

Nomar Garciaparra, who had struggled since missing the first 57 games of the season with Achilles’ tendinitis, had a pair of hits and is 9-for-18 in his last four games to raise his batting average from .235 to .291. Millar also had three hits.

Mueller gave Boston a 3-0 lead with his sixth homer of the season.

In the fourth, Doug Mirabelli, Mueller and Damon walked to load the bases, and Zito walked Mark Bellhorn to force in a run. David Ortiz was fooled into a weak popup, and Manny Ramirez walked to make it 5-0.

After Garciaparra lined out to third, Millar doubled into the left-field corner to score two more runs. Trot Nixon hit a 400-foot out to center for the final out, but that was it for Zito.

Mirabelli singled to start the fifth, Mueller walked, Damon singled and Bellhorn hit an RBI single. Two outs later, Garciaparra singled in two runs tomake it 11-0.

Notes

RHP Scott Williamson left the team before the game and traveled to Cincinnati to have a second opinion on his strained right elbow. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Tuesday that Kevin Youkilis and Mark Bellhorn would begin taking ground balls at 1B to prepare for a possible start there. … Oakland 3B Eric Chavez (broken bone, right hand) began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Monday night and went 2-for-5 with two runs scored as the DH. … The Red Sox, who lead the majors with 60 unearned runs, played a fifth consecutive error-free game. … Wakefield moved into fourth on the Red Sox list for innings pitched, passing Mel Parnell. … Wakefield’s victory was the second in a month for a Boston starter that Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez. … David Ortiz was 0-for-6. …The A’s made two errors.

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