OAKLAND, Calif. -- The first time Oakland A's right-hander A.J. Griffin faced the Boston Red Sox this season, he had a nightmare at Fenway Park.
He allowed a career-high nine runs on eight hits and lasted just four innings in a 9-6 loss on April 22. He gave up two home runs that night, including a grand slam to Mike Napoli.
Griffin evened the score on Saturday night at the O.co Coliseum and helped the A's even their three-game series against Boston with a 3-0 victory.
Griffin threw eight shutout innings before giving way to closer Grant Balfour, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his 43rd consecutive save, an ongoing Oakland record. Griffin (8-6) allowed six hits -- five singles and a Napoli double -- and won his third straight decision. He struck out three and walked one.
The Red Sox put at least one runner on base in each of the first six innings, but Griffin got out of every jam.
"Days like this, you just try to go out there and keep them off the board as long as you can," Griffin said. "Minimize things. Luckily for me tonight, I got to make those pitches, the good pitches at the right time and get out of some jams, and that's big, especially after my showing against them last time in Fenway. That didn't go very well, so I kind of wanted to go out there and just pitch my game and do the best that I could."
Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester took the loss despite a solid outing. He gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, including a solo home run the A's catcher Derek Norris on an 0-2 count.
"I thought Jon gave us a solid effort tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's one of those days where he was probably pitching on the wrong day, given how effective Griffin was against us.
"Outside of the 0-2 homer to Norris, they manufactured a couple single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. And the way they pitched against us tonight, the three-run difference loomed large. We had a number of opportunities, and where we've been able to be fortunate with the two-out base hits the last couple ballgames, that wasn't the case tonight."
The A's remained a game ahead of Texas in the American League West, and Boston's lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay slipped to 3 1/2 games.
Norris was well aware of what went wrong for Griffin at Fenway Park and what he needed to do Saturday.
"I watched the video today when I got to the ballpark and went over a few things," Norris said. "I simply told him, 'When you got in trouble, you just missed location. Any time you hit your location with your pitches, you were fine. Whenever you missed location was when they took advantage of you.'"
Norris gave Oakland a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out home run off Lester. The A's made it 2-0 in the sixth when Jed Lowrie walked with one out, moved to second on Josh Donaldson's sharp single to center and scored on Yoenis Cespedes' single to left.
The A's increased their lead to 3-0 in the seventh. Josh Reddick singled off Lester, moved to second when Norris walked and eventually scored on Coco Crisp's single off reliever Junichi Tazawa.
"I feel like I threw the ball pretty well," Lester said. "The guy on the other side threw the hell out of the ball. That was pretty impressive."
Norris broke a scoreless tie with a solo shot off Lester with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Lester got ahead 0-2 in the count but sent a 91 mph fastball down the middle of the plate and Norris lined it to left field for his fifth home run of the season.
As it turned out, that's all the offense the A's needed with Griffin escaping every jam he faced, unlike his outing at Fenway.
"They just got the big hit with guys on base over there, and tonight I was able to get out of those jams," Griffin said.
NOTES: Red Sox RHP Steven Wright was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, opening a roster for LHP Matt Thornton, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a trade on Friday. Farrell said Wright is a candidate to join the rotation as the No. 5 starter after the All-Star break. ... SS Stephen Drew (right hamstring strain) "is not likely" to be activated Sunday when he's eligible to come off the disabled list, Farrell said. "We'd like to get him some at-bats on a very, very brief rehab, if that works in, coming out of the break. He's going to be rejoining us shortly right after the All-Star break." ... LHP Matt Thornton, acquired in a trade from the Chicago White Sox on Friday night, reported to the Red Sox some two hours before Saturday night's game.