Red Sox-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

To say the Oakland Athletics head into September on a high note would be an understatement.

The Boston Red Sox may not be able to get much lower than last September, but this August came close.

Coming off their highest-scoring game in more than a decade, the surging Athletics look to win eight in a row for the first time in six years Saturday night against the visiting Red Sox.

The A's (74-57) concluded August by winning 13 of 15, and open September with a one-game lead over Baltimore for the AL's top wild-card spot and 3 1/2-game cushion over Tampa Bay - the next-closest challenger. Oakland has won its last four games by a 47-13 margin, including a 20-2 rout of the Red Sox in Friday's series opener.

The A's not only matched their longest winning streak of the season with Friday's romp, but also equaled last year's win total. Another victory would give them eight straight for the first time since a 10-game run in June 2006, during the last season they made the playoffs.

"It's fun, everybody's running to the bat rack ready to bat,'' said outfielder Josh Reddick, who hit his first career grand slam Friday. "You can't wait to get in the batter's box.''

Brandon Moss - like Reddick a former Boston player - had career highs of four hits, four RBIs and four runs Friday, and ex-Red Sox catcher George Kottaras drove in five as Oakland plated its most runs since a 23-2 win over Texas on Sept. 30, 2000.

In the process, Oakland handed the Red Sox (62-71) their most-lopsided loss since a 22-1 defeat to the New York Yankees on Jun 19, 2000.

"Nothing to talk about," said Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is batting .348 during a seven-game hitting streak. "The score was 20-2!''

Boston has dropped four straight and nine of 12, and another defeat would drop it 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 17, 1997, when it was 42-52. The Red Sox, who went 7-20 during their September collapse last season, finished August with a 9-20 record.

Reddick has been a catalyst of Oakland's offensive surge, batting .500 with three homers and nine RBIs in his last six games. He has three home runs and nine RBIs in seven contests against his former team.

The A's lost 11-6 to the Red Sox on April 30 in the season's first meeting, but have outscored them 41-12 in winning the last six. That run is Oakland's longest single-season winning streak over Boston since 1969, and the franchise hasn't won seven straight in the series since reeling off eight in a row in 1932.

The A's will try to stay hot offensively against Red Sox starter Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.79 ERA).

After being sidelined for 2 1/2 weeks with a right knee contusion, Doubront came off the disabled Saturday against Kansas City and allowed four runs in five innings before Boston rallied to win 8-6. The left-hander has permitted at least four runs in four of his last five outings, and it's been six starts since his last win July 18 over the Chicago White Sox.

Doubront gave up five runs in his lone start against the A's on May 1, when he lasted just four innings in a 5-3 loss.

Oakland is slated to activate A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.42) from the DL for Saturday.

Griffin, who has permitted three runs or fewer in each of his first eight major league starts, has been out since Aug. 4 with a strained right shoulder. The rookie right-hander allowed one run and three hits over five innings in a rehab outing Monday for Triple-A Sacramento.

He made his third big league start against Boston on July 4, and gave up two runs and four hits in six innings of a contest Oakland eventually won 3-2.

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