Yes, the first-place A’s are scoreboard watching in late August.
Frank Thomas scored from first on a fourth-inning double by Eric Chavez that broke a scoreless tie, and Kirk Saarloos won his third straight start in Oakland’s 2-1 victory over the reeling Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
“We’re closing in on September,” Thomas said. “When you get a lead in September, that’s what it’s all about. We’ve got to keep winning, but it’s hard not to scoreboard watch.”
Saarloos (7-6) matched Boston’s Josh Beckett and earned his fourth consecutive win after working four innings of relief Aug. 8.
Mark Ellis added a sacrifice fly following Marco Scutaro’s triple in the fifth for the surging A’s, who moved 7 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles in the AL West after the Angels lost at Seattle. Oakland won its eighth straight at home and 14th in 18 overall. The A’s haven’t led the division by more than 6 1/2 games since holding a seven-game edge on Sept. 30, 1992.
Still, Oakland has seven games left against Los Angeles—not to mention three at Minnesota and three with the White Sox.
“I think you just get done with the day and go on to the next day,” manager Ken Macha said.
The injury-depleted Red Sox lost their fifth straight game and 11th in 13 and fell 7 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees, who had their home game with Detroit postponed by rain. Boston’s AL East deficit is its largest since the Red Sox were down 7 1/2 games on Aug. 20, 2004.
In the first inning, the Red Sox announced that slugger David Ortiz had been hospitalized in Boston for the second time this month, checking into Massachusetts General for further evaluation on his heart.
Ortiz felt heart palpitations about 10 days ago and again before Monday night’s game in Oakland, where he was a late scratch from the lineup. He returned to Boston for more tests, Red Sox medical director Thomas Gill said Tuesday.
“We really don’t feel he’s going to keel over,” manager Terry Francona said. “He was tested the other night. A lot of people have these things. … He has to know that he is fine. We’re not going to jeopardize his health.”
Saarloos, who began the season in the bullpen and pitched on eight days’ rest this outing, was done in the seventh after allowing consecutive one-out singles to Carlos Pena and Doug Mirabelli, but Boston failed to score.
Eric Hinske had an RBI single for the Red Sox. Otherwise, they couldn’t do much against Saarloos, who allowed six hits and one run, struck out three and walked two. Justin Duchscherer pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his sixth save in eight chances.
Beckett (14-9) gave up five hits and two runs, struck out four and walked three in seven innings.
“We got outplayed in every facet,” Beckett said. “We got outpitched.”
The right-hander beat the A’s in Oakland on July 24 but has won only once in seven starts—last Thursday against the Angels—since becoming the majors’ first 13-game winner. Yet this Red Sox lineup lacked its usual power hitters.
Ramirez has played in only one of Boston’s last five games because of a sore right knee, and Pena has missed three games due to soreness in his left wrist. Ortiz was scheduled for further tests that were expected to take a few days.
“It’s a big difference, but at the same time nobody felt sorry for us when we were minus Bobby (Crosby) and Rich (Harden) and minus a bunch of guys,” Saarloos said. “But I would be lying if I said it didn’t make a big difference.”
Boston is 8-20 in August, the club’s worst month since it lost 19 in April 1996. The last time the Red Sox had an August this bad was when they dropped 21 games in 1985.
Boston CF Coco Crisp made a great diving catch to rob Jay Payton of a hit in the fourth. … The A’s have won their first season series from the Red Sox since 2003. Their six wins are Oakland’s most against Boston since going 6-4 in 1999. … With two shutouts during this road trip, the Red Sox have been blanked twice on the same trip for the first time since September 1997, 6-0 at Detroit and 3-0 at Toronto. … The A’s are 20 games over .500 for the first time since finishing ’04 91-71.