Red Sox 7, Athletics 0

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BOSTON (AP)—All the Boston Red Sox needed was a strong effort from Curt Schilling so their weary bullpen could rest.

Schilling allowed two hits and struck out nine in seven innings and David Ortiz snapped out of an RBI slump with his major league-leading 32nd homer and a two-run triple, leading the Red Sox to a 7-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

Mike Lowell had a pair of doubles and drove in two runs for the Red Sox, who broke a three-game losing streak and avoided their longest skid of the season. Schilling (11-3) walked one and hit a batter in lowering his ERA from 3.60 to 3.42.

This came a night after Boston’s pitchers were hammered for 15 runs and 16 hits. On Thursday, the Red Sox lost in 11 innings, using five relievers.

“I’m aware of what’s going on and how things are going,” Schilling said. “We got clobbered last night and our bullpen’s taxed a little bit and I know that’s what they pay me to do. They pay me to go out there and, on nights like this, give our offense a chance to put pressure on.”

Ortiz, who raised his major-league leading RBI total to 90, had gone consecutive games without driving in a run for the first time since June 19-20.

Oakland, which won the first two games of the four-game series, missed a chance to take sole possession of first place in the AL West. Texas remained tied despite losing to Baltimore 8-1 earlier Saturday.

The Athletics managed only four hits against three Boston pitchers Saturday as the Red Sox became the final team in the majors to get a shutout this season.

“They gave more than enough runs for Schilling,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “He had tremendous command of his ball—every pitch.”

Boston grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second on Lowell’s RBI double after Manny Ramirez led off with a double.

The Red Sox added four runs in the third against Dan Haren (6-8). Ortiz tripled to right after Kevin Youkilis singled and Mark Loretta walked. Ortiz lumbered in with a stand-up triple after Milton Bradley misplayed a carom and allowed the ball to bounce around the corner. That gave the Boston slugger his first two RBIs since the All-Star break.

Boston manager Terry Francona was amused by Ortiz’s rare triple.

“I love when you see those arms moving going around second,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a big body.”

Ramirez singled home Ortiz, went to third on Trot Nixon’s single and scored on Lowell’s sacrifice fly that made it 5-0. Alex Cora added an RBI single in the seventh.

Both dugouts were warned after Schilling hit Nick Swisher with a pitch just above the right hip in the sixth after Jason Varitek was hit on the back of the right leg an inning earlier.

Swisher hinted that it might not be forgotten.

“You know it was on purpose. Everybody in the stadium knows it was on purpose,” Swisher said. “I didn’t think anything was going on the first two pitches then all of a sudden I get drilled in the ribs. Tomorrow’s a different day and we’ll take it from there.”

Unlike the first two games of the series when Boston’s starters couldn’t make it past the fifth inning, Schilling was in command from the start.

After striking out a pair in a perfect first, he allowed singles by Frank Thomas and Bradley in the second but ended the inning by fanning Mark Ellis with a split-finger fastball in the dirt.

Haren gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings, dropping him to 0-3 in his last six starts.

Notes

Bradley had words with some fans behind Oakland’s dugout after both teams were warned. He waved his cap while walking out to right field when fans chanted his name the next inning. “There were a lot of people that were upset, not just Milton,” Macha said of Swisher getting hit. … It was Boston’s first shutout since July 23, 2005 at Chicago. … It was Ortiz’s 10th career triple, the first since June 19, 2005. … Oakland CF Mark Kotsay robbed Varitek of an extra-base hit while running into the fence in right-center in the second. … RHP Kyle Snyder will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and start for Boston on Sunday. Tim Wakefield, who had been experiencing back soreness, was pushed back to Monday. … Nixon snapped a 1-for-14 slump with a third-inning single. … Bradley went 1-for-2 after going 4-for-5 Friday in his first game off the DL.

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