Red Sox-Athletics Live: Sox Take Series Opener 9-6 Behind Five-RBI Effort From Mike Napoli

Felix Doubront, Robinson Cano

Final, Red Sox 9-6: John Farrell probably hoped he would not have to use his closer tonight, but Andrew Bailey gets the job done in the ninth to pick up his fourth save of the year.

A big inning carried the Red Sox again tonight, as the team hung five runs on Oakland in the fifth inning. Mike Napoli’s grand slam led the way in that frame, and the first baseman continued his hot streak at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and five RBIs.

These two teams will be back at it Wednesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. from Fenway Park.

End 8th, Red Sox, 9-6: The Sox go down in order, and we go to the ninth.

Andrew Bailey probably thought he might get the night off after Boston built a six-run lead, but the closer is being called into duty to shut the door on the A’s.

He’ll face Chris Young, Brandon Moss and Jed Lowrie, none of whom have recorded a hit so far tonight.

Mid 8th, Red Sox, 9-6: Wilson didn’t last long, walking the only batter he faced before being yanked in favor of Junichi Tazawa.

Pinch hitter Eric Sogard put a charge into a Tazawa fastball, but Shane Victorino ranged back to make the grab near the warning track.

Reddick advanced to third on the deep fly ball, but Tazawa got Coco Crisp to line out to first base to cap the scoring at three runs.

Top 8th, Red Sox, 9-6: The game’s lopsided score has led to an emptying of the bleachers at Fenway Park, with the “heavily lubricated” engaging in some late-game heckling at the expense of A’s catcher Derek Norris.

Norris’ night has been bad enough, having struck out in his first three at-bats. He finally reached base in his fourth trip to the plate, but only after being plunked by Red Sox reliever Clayton Mortensen, who walked Brandon Moss to open the eighth.

The hit-by-pitch was followed by a bases-clearing double by Josh Donaldson, cutting the Sox’ lead to four runs. Josh Reddick followed suit, bringing Donaldson home with a double of his own, and we may end up having a save situation tonight.

Alex Wilson relieves Mortensen with one out and Reddick on second.

End 7th, Red Sox, 9-3: The Red Sox have built sizable early leads several times this season, but they have had trouble adding to those leads in the later innings to sew up easy wins.

That’s appearing to happen again tonight, as the Sox have not recorded a hit since their breakout fifth inning, striking out four times over the past two frames.

Boston did put two men on in the seventh, with Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury drawing two-out walks against Sean Doolittle, but Shane Victorino narrowly missed beating out an infield single that would have extended the inning.

Clayton Mortensen returns to the mound for the Sox in the top of the eighth.

Mid 7th, Red Sox, 9-3: Doubront did indeed have a short leash in the seventh, but he wasn’t pulled due to poor performance. He retired Andy Parrino and Coco Crisp on six pitches before Clayton Mortensen entered and induced an inning-ending ground out off the bat of Chris Young.

Tonight was far from a gem for Doubront, as he walked five and threw only 67 of his 113 pitches for strikes, but the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Three earned runs over 6 2/3 innings is a perfectly serviceable outing for a team’s fourth starter.

End 6th, Red Sox, 9-3: Jerry Blevins has no problem with the Sox’ heavy hitters, retiring Ortiz, Napoli and Nava in order in the sixth.

Dominance has been the status quo this year for the 6-foot-6 southpaw, who has allowed just one run in 10 appearances out of the A’s bullpen. The only man he has allowed to reach base in his last six outings came on a walk more than two weeks ago against Houston.

Felix Doubront returns to the mound for the Red Sox in the top of the seventh, with Clayton Mortensen warming in the ‘pen. With 107 pitches and five walks under his belt, he’ll likely have a short leash

Mid 6th, Red Sox, 9-3: If that was the final inning for Felix Doubront, he ended his night on a good note.

Doubront issued a walk to Josh Donaldson — his fourth handed out tonight — but struck out Derek Norris and Josh Reddick and retired Nate Freiman on a fly ball to the warning track in left.

The Red Sox don’t have anybody warming in the bullpen yet, but with 107 pitches already, it’s hard to imagine Doubront staying in the game for much longer.

The A’s will bring out their third pitcher of the night, as Jerry Blevins comes on to face David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava in the sixth.

End 5th, Red Sox, 9-3: We told you the heart of the Boston order is powerful.

A.J. Griffin found that out the hard way again in the fifth, when No. 5 hitter Mike Napoli crushed an 0-1 fastball over the Green Monster for his fourth career grand slam, increasing the Red Sox’ lead to 8-3 with no outs.

While Napoli swung the bat well, the A’s fielding has to shoulder much of the blame for the damage done. With Shane Victorino on first after a leadoff single, a textbook double-play opportunity was botched when second baseman Andy Parrino couldn’t handle Jed Lowrie’s flip from shortstop.

Instead of two outs with the bases empty, Griffin was forced to face David Ortiz with two men on and nobody else. He walked the big man to load the bases, and Napoli emptied them in the next at-bat.

A fielding error by first baseman Brandon Moss allowed Daniel Nava to reach, and that was it for Griffin’s outing. Having allowed nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits and a pair of homers, tonight was the right-hander’s worst performance of the season by far. Griffin came into tonight’s game 2-0 on the year and had allowed two runs or fewer in each of his first three starts.

The Sox added another run off reliever Chris Resop when Jarrod Saltalamacchia poked an RBI double past Coco Crisp in center field. Resop then issued two-out walks to both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino to load the bases yet again before getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out to shortstop on full-count pitch.

The damage total: 11 batters, five runs, three hits, three walks, two errors. After the long layoff, Felix Doubront returns to the mound for the sixth.

Mid 5th, Red Sox, 4-3: This is the Felix Doubront that Red Sox fans do not want to see, as the Hyde to the last two innings’ Jekyll reared its ugly head in the fifth.

After striking out Josh Reddick to open the frame, Doubront walked Nate Freiman, surrendered a single up the middle by Andy Parrino, allowed both runners to advance on a wild pitch and walked leadoff hitter Coco Crisp, prompting a full-team meeting at the mound.

Chris Young’s ensuing fly ball to center was gathered by Jacoby Ellsbury, but it was deep enough to allow Freiman to score from third to cut the lead to 4-3.

Another free pass to Brandon Moss loaded the bases before Jed Lowrie popped out to Jacoby Ellsbury to end the threat. Lowrie’s at-bat was far more interesting that Doubront would have preferred, though. After getting ahead of Lowrie 0-2, the righty just missed with three very pitches very close to the top of the strike zone, bringing the count to full and eliciting a chorus of boos aimed at home base umpire Mike Estabrook, before getting the shortstop to pop out to center.

End 4th, Red Sox, 4-2: That ought to coax a smile out of Will Middlebrooks.

The third baseman, who has been mired in a brutal slump after such a strong start to the season, deposited an A.J. Griffin offering into the second row of Monster seats. The three-run blast was Middlebrooks’ first homer since April 7, and it gave the Sox their first lead of the night with one out in the inning.

Mike Napoli kicked off the inning by reaching base for the second time tonight, but he’ll be feeling the aftereffects of this one.

A high fastball from Griffin struck Napoli on the inside of his bicep, sending the first baseman into a long crouch while members of the Red Sox training staff examined him. He remained in the game, though, and promptly scampered to third base when Daniel Nava doubled on the first pitch he saw.

But the loudest ovation of the night came after the inning’s final out, when a number of police officers and first responders were honored atop the Red Sox dugout.

Mid 4th, A’s 2-1: Derek Norris and Brandon Moss have not had fun at the plate tonight, as both gone down twice by way of the K.

Norris was victimized by 3-2 fastball in the fourth from Felix Doubront, who retired the side in order for the third time tonight.

The Sox will have the meat of their due up in the bottom half of the frame, with David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava coming to the plate against A.J. Griffin.

End 3rd, A’s 2-1: While Doubront has done a good job of inducing ground balls tonight, his Oakland counterpart has employed a different philosophy.

The Sox gave the ball a ride again in the third, but came away with just one hit — a Jacoby Ellsbury double to center that stretched the leadoff man’s hitting streak to 12 games.

All three of Boston’s hits tonight have been deep doubles, and most of their outs have followed a similar pattern, as only two at-bats (Ellsbury’s ground out in the first and Will Middlebrooks’ strikeout in the second) have failed to produce a fly ball into the outfield.

The A’s have been able to get underneath most of those, though, including a pair of fly outs by Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia that stranded Ellsbury at third.

Mid 3rd, A’s 2-1: Thus far, Felix Doubront’s start feels eerily similar to the one he made in Cleveland last week.

Doubront retired the side in order in the top of the third, bookending his rough second inning with a pair of 1-2-3 frames. He has had success when keeping the ball on the ground, as he did in both the first and third innings.

End 2nd, A’s 2-1: It was supposed to take David Ortiz a few weeks to get back in the swing of things after that long stint on the disabled list, right?

Big Papi has proven everyone wrong in that department, and he continued to do so in his first at-bat tonight, lining a double halfway up the Green Monster in right-center field. Mike Napoli followed with a two-bagger of his own into the right-field corner, and the Red Sox were on the board for the first time tonight.

In his three games since returning from the DL, Ortiz has gone 6-for-9 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored.

Will Middlebrooks, on the other hand, cannot seem to escape the funk he’s been stuck in since the end of the Toronto series. The third baseman struck out swinging for the second out of the inning and has reached base just three times in his last seven games.

Mid 2nd, A’s 2-0: The second inning has proven problematic for Doubront this season.

He was victimized in the second again tonight, as the A’s touched him for a pair of runs to take an early 2-0 lead.

Jed Lowrie walked to open the frame,  , and came home on Josh Donaldson’s RBI double two batters later. The Sox had an opportunity to nab the third baseman at second, but left fielder Daniel Nava’s relay throw to Dustin Pedroia was off the line.

A Josh Reddick single moved Donaldson to third, and wild pitch allowed him to stroll home for Oakland’s second run.

Doubront retired Mass. native Nate Freiman on a fly ball to left and No. 9 hitter Andy Parrino on strikes to end the frame. He’s struck out three so far tonight.

End 1st, 0-0: A.J. Griffin started strong in each of his first three starts this season, and he got off on the right foot in his fourth, as well.

The right-hander threw nine of his 12 pitches for strikes to retire the Red Sox in order in their half of the first.

Most Boston hitters are not very familiar with Griffin, with only Jarrod Saltalamacchia totaling more than five at-bats against the A’s hurler. Griffin has gotten the best of the few encounters though, as the Sox roster is a combined 5-for-28 with just one extra-base hit all-time against him entering tonight.

Mid 1st, 0-0: In discussing Red Sox alumni currently wearing the green and gold, I neglected to mention first baseman Brandon Moss, who spent 49 games with Boston between 2007 and 2008.

Moss became the first strikeout victim of the night, as Felix Doubront blew a fastball by him to retire the side in order in the top of the first. Coco Crisp and Chris Young were similarly ineffective in the frame, with neither hitting the ball out of the infield.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia are due up against A.J. Griffin — and his impressive flow — in the bottom of the first.

6:35 p.m.: The Red Sox jog out to their respective positions and it is time to play ball at Fenway.

If you’re on your way to the park now, you might want to stop and pick up a sweatshirt — or maybe a parka. The temperature is falling fast as the evening sun fades, and wind chills are expected to be as low as 35 degrees in the later innings.

Old friend Coco Crisp will be the first to bat against right-hander Felix Doubront in the top of the first.

5:55 p.m.: Tonight’s rare 6:35 p.m. start time puts first pitch just about 40 minutes from now, so let’s take a closer look at the visiting A’s as pregame warmups begin to wind down.

Oakland was one of the most exciting and intriguing teams in all of baseball last season. Devoid of top-flight talent — as Billy Beane’s teams tend to be — the A’s rode a roster of cast-offs, no-names and role players all the way to a division championship, erasing a five-game deficit with nine games remaining to overtake the defending AL champion Rangers on the final day of the regular season.

Oakland sits atop the AL West through 19 games this year, as well, and has thoroughly dominated the Red Sox in recent meetings. The two teams played each other nine times in 2012, with the A’s winning eight, including a 20-2 beatdown at O.co Coliseum on Aug. 31.

A main storyline in Oakland in this young season has been the emergence of Jed Lowrie. Lowrie was a light-hitting shortstop who couldn’t seem to stay off the disabled list during his four seasons in Boston, but the 29-year-old has become an offensive force in 2013. He’s started all but one game this season and leads the team in average (.382), on-base percentage (.462), hits (26) and RBIs (14), among others.

That newfound production will certainly be a point of discussion as tonight wears on.

3:30 p.m.: The Red Sox will facing an A’s lineup chock full of players with Boston ties tonight.

Former Sox Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick will both be patrolling the outfield for Oakland while Jed Lowrie, once a top prospect in the Boston farm system, will get the start at shortstop and Wellesley native Nate Freiman will man first base.

The Red Sox’ starting lineup tonight mirrors what we’ve typically seen from the team this season, with Shane Victorino returning to right field and batting second after sitting out Sunday’s doubleheader with a minor back injury.

Here are tonight’s full starting lineups:

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Stephen Drew, SS

Felix Doubront, P

Athletics
Coco Crisp ,CF
Chris Young, LF
Brandon Moss, 1B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Derek Norris, C
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Josh Reddick, RF
Nate Freiman, DH
Andy Parrino, 2B

A.J. Griffin, P

10 a.m. ET: The Red Sox had quite the run going until Sunday’s doubleheader hiccup, and they now have the chance to prove that the back-to-back losses this weekend were a one-day fluke. With seven straight games coming at home against the recently stumbling Oakland Athletics and the weak Houston Astros, the Sox are due to start rolling again.

Boston hosts the A’s on Monday night, with Felix Doubront looking to rekindle the Sox’ win streak (snapped at seven on Sunday) and run of starting pitchers allowing no more than three runs (16 straight games going into Sunday).

The Sox have a tall task ahead of them in the A’s. While Oakland struggled over the weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting just .179 and going 3-for-25 with runners in scoring position in the Tampa sweep, the A’s had the American League’s best record before that. They’ve also won their last eight meetings with Boston, outscoring the Sox 54-15.

The A’s send right-hander A.J. Griffin (2-0, 2.25 ERA) to the hill for the opener. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his three starts this year, and he’s 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA against Boston in his career, although he’s never pitched at Fenway Park.

Doubront (1-0, 4.50) has had a tougher time against Oakland. He’s 0-2 with a 12.86 ERA against the A’s, and this season he’s struggled again with keeping his pitch count down, lasting just five innings in each of his first two starts.

Tune in to NESN at 5:30 p.m. for pregame action, then check back here at 6:35 for first pitch. We’ll keep you updated with news and analysis before and during the game.

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