Red Sox-Athletics Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The Boston Red Sox are struggling for runs on this trip. Things may not get easier in the finale against a pitcher they have never seen who is adapting well to the big leagues.
A.J. Griffin enters his third career start with 11 consecutive scoreless innings for the Oakland Athletics, who are looking for their first three-game sweep of the Red Sox in four years Wednesday.
Boston (42-39) has totaled 12 runs with a .215 average in losing four of six on this trip. Slugger David Ortiz is 5 for 23 with one extra-base hit on the West Coast as he continues to search for his 400th homer.
"We're sputtering a little bit. We're not stringing hits together," manager Bobby Valentine said. "We will (Wednesday)."
That may not be easy against Griffin (0-0, 1.50 ERA), who was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on June 24 to square off with San Francisco's Matt Cain. Griffin allowed a two-run homer to Buster Posey in his first inning.
That accounts for all the runs off him. The right-hander allowed one more hit over five scoreless innings in the rest of his outing against the Giants and yielded two singles over six innings Friday, retiring 13 straight in one stretch in a 4-3 road loss to Matt Harrison and Texas.
"It's pretty satisfying to do well against a team like that," said Griffin, who began the year at Double-A Midland. "But it was a bittersweet game."
Griffin's mound opponent Wednesday finally won't be a current All-Star, but Red Sox starter Aaron Cook (2-1, 4.32) is coming off perhaps the best effort of his career.
Cook needed just 81 pitches for a two-hitter - his third career shutout - Friday in a 5-0 win over Seattle. He issued no walks and faced one batter over the minimum.
"I was able to pound the zone early and keep them swinging at pitches I want them swinging at," Cook said after his third start in the majors this year.
The veteran right-hander faced Oakland (40-42) twice while with Colorado, going 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA. The Athletics hitter with the most experience against him is Jonny Gomes, who is 7 for 14 with three homers.
Boston will try to avoid being swept by Oakland for the first time since May 23-25, 2008, also on the road. The Red Sox suffered their third walk-off loss on this trip Tuesday, falling 3-2.
The A's scored twice in the ninth off closer Alfredo Aceves thanks to two former Red Sox outfielders. Pinch-hitter Brandon Moss tied the game with a one-out RBI single and Coco Crisp followed with a sacrifice fly.
"He's the guy you want up in those situations," manager Bob Melvin said about Crisp. "Every time he comes to the plate, we have a good feeling."
Crisp homered in the first inning to put Oakland ahead before Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied it with a solo homer in the second. Ortiz scored on first baseman Chris Carter's error in the fourth.
Adrian Gonzalez has been one of the few productive Red Sox hitters lately, batting .356 during a 14-game hit streak, although he has only three extra-base hits in that span.
Oakland continues to lead the AL with a 3.46 ERA, also allowing the fewest homers in the league with 65.
Updated July 4, 2012