OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Frank Thomas finally emerged from his postgame workout, head dripping with sweat, his green undershirt soaked through from a 30-minute ride on the stationary bike.
All the extra work has the Big Hurt feeling healthy again, with his tender right quad muscle gaining strength by the day.
Thomas homered twice and drove in four runs to help Dan Haren win for the first time in six weeks, and the Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep with a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.
Before he started his first season with the A’s, Thomas told everybody that it would take time for him to become his old self again after playing only 108 games over the previous two seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
“I’m getting my legs back under me,” said Thomas, who missed 13 games last month while on the disabled list. “I’m happy right now with the direction I’m headed. I said hopefully by the fourth or fifth month I would take off like I’m capable. Missing a year and a half … it’s going to take at-bats, a lot of at-bats.”
Thomas hit a solo homer in the fourth and a three-run shot in the fifth, both off Kyle Snyder, for his 21st and 22nd of the year. It marked the second two-homer game this season for the Big Hurt and 28th of his career. His other came May 22 at Chicago against his former White Sox teammates.
“I don’t feel like I’m old,” the 38-year-old Thomas said. “I still feel like I have a lot to give.”
Haren (7-9) pitched seven strong innings to end a seven-start winless stretch and three-start losing streak. He had lost his last four decisions since beating Seattle on June 14. After Coco Crisp’s two-out single in the second, Haren retired the next 14 Boston batters before Manny Ramirez doubled in the seventh. Crisp drove him in with another single.
The A’s remained in a first-place tie with the Los Angeles Angels atop the AL West standings after the Angels also won Wednesday, 15-6 at Tampa Bay.
Oakland ended a three-game losing streak and five-game home skid that was its worst in the Coliseum since losing six in a row from May 2-15 last year.
Thomas broke a scoreless tie with his shot to center in the fourth, then gave the A’s a 5-0 lead with his three-run homer to left—No. 470 of his career.
After his first home run, the A’s followed with three hits against Snyder, including Bobby Crosby’s infield single that made it 2-0.
Crosby left the game after the sixth with a mild back strain sustained while swinging and then sliding into second trying to steal—yet more frustrating injury news for the beat-up A’s. Trainer Larry Davis expected Crosby to be back in the lineup Thursday for the opener of a four-game series against Toronto.
Snyder (2-2), making his fourth start of the year after beating Jamie Moyer and Seattle last week, didn’t get it done the way Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling did in the first two games of the series. Beckett became baseball’s first 13-game winner Monday, then Schilling got his 13th on Tuesday night.
Snyder allowed 10 hits and five runs in six innings, struck out two and walked three.
“If we keep it in the park, it’s a different ballgame,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Two big blasts. When (Thomas) gets his arms extended, he’s a strong guy.”
Oakland manager Ken Macha waited to write his lineup based on whether third baseman Eric Chavez returned in time after undergoing further tests on his troublesome forearms. Chavez has been dealing with tendinitis in both arms for a month and had an MRI exam that revealed he has tendinitis in the elbow and triceps area, too.
Chavez arrived about 15 minutes before first pitch and still played. He batted seventh, getting two hits as Oakland held at least a share of first place for the 42nd straight day.
“It’s definitely getting there,” he said. “I’m starting to see and feel some results. It’s positive.”
Haren’s outing marked only the fourth time in 18 games since July 5 that Oakland’s starters have pitched beyond the sixth inning.
Ramirez, who homered in the first two games, extended his season-best hitting streak to 12 games with the seventh-inning double.
Boston optioned LHP Kason Gabbard to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game and will make a corresponding move Friday after the team’s off day. … Red Sox C Jason Varitek got the day off and Doug Mirabelli started in his place. … Before the game, the A’s optioned Tuesday’s losing pitcher, RHP Jason Windsor, to Triple-A Sacramento following his second major league start. Oakland also recalled LHP Randy Keisler from Sacramento. … Thomas has three homers in nine at-bats against Snyder. The DH is batting .391 (9-for-23) with nine RBIs this year vs. Boston. … The A’s drew 35,077, including 1,000 standing-room only tickets, for their ninth sellout. The club raised more than $40,000 for juvenile diabetes research in its seventh annual root beer float day. … Snyder is 0-4 in five career starts against the A’s.