Final, Athletics 3-0: Grant Balfour is now 25-for-25 in save opportunities. Balfour worked through a ninth-inning single to nail down a 3-0 A’s win.
A.J. Griffin was in complete control while shutting down the Red Sox’ offense for eight innings, and the A’s scored a run in three consecutive frames to snap Boston’s four-game winning streak.
Derek Norris broke a scoreless tie with his fifth home run of the season in the fifth inning. Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp then added to the lead with RBI singles in the sixth and seventh inning, respectively.
Jon Lester found himself in some trouble from time to time, but he wasn’t all that bad. Lester was charged with all three of Oakland’s runs while pitching 6 1/3 innings. He gave up six hits, struck out four and walked three while throwing 100 pitches (63 strikes).
Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli each had two hits, but the story was Boston’s inability to push across a run. The Red Sox left six men on base and went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The Red Sox and A’s will close out the series and the first half of the season with a rubber match on Sunday. Rookie Brandon Workman will go up against 40-year-old All-Star Bartolo Colon. Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.
Good night, everyone.
End 8th, Athletics 3-0: Yoenis Cespedes singled to lead things off, but Junichi Tazawa settled down from there.
Nate Freiman followed up Cespedes’ single with a ground ball to short. Jose Iglesias made the play and chucked to second base, where Dustin Pedroia successfully turned the double play.
Tazawa struck out Chris Young swinging to end the inning, and the Red Sox will come up in the ninth with a three-run deficit to overcome.
Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are due up for Boston. A’s closer Grant Balfour is coming in to pitch.
Mid 8th, Athletics 3-0: The Red Sox had a hard time getting the ball out of the infield in the eighth inning.
Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz went down in order, and Boston now has three outs to make up at least three runs.
Victorino popped out for the first out, and Pedroia and Ortiz each grounded out.
Pedroia hit a grounder to short that Jed Lowrie initially bobbled. Fortunately for Lowrie, the ball popped out of his glove and into his throwing hand, which enabled him to throw out Pedroia.
Ortiz hit a slow roller to the right side that Lowrie, who was pulled over because of the shift, fielded on the run. Lowrie tossed to first to nail Ortiz in time.
Junichi Tazawa is coming back out to begin the ninth inning.
End 7th, Athletics 3-0: Coco Crisp didn’t wait around after Junichi Tazawa took over.
Crisp lined a base hit into right field to score Josh Reddick from third base. The run was charged to Jon Lester, who left with two runners on.
Tazawa minimized the damage by striking out Jed Lowrie and retiring Josh Donaldson on a chopper to short.
Lester was charged with three runs in 6 1/3 innings of work. He gave up six hits, struck out four and walked three while throwing 100 pitches (63 strikes).
12:14 a.m., Athletics 2-0: Jon Lester’s night is done after 6 1/3 innings.
Josh Reddick beat the shift by singling into left field to lead off the seventh inning. Lester then walked Derek Norris on five pitches despite delivering a first-pitch strike.
Grant Green sent a fly ball down the right field line, and Shane Victorino tracked it down while running into foul territory. Reddick tagged up and moved to third base, but Victorino got it back in quickly to keep Norris at first base and keep the double play in order.
John Farrell is now turning to Junichi Tazawa with one out in the seventh inning.
Mid 7th, Athletics 2-0: The Red Sox were silent in the seventh inning.
Jose Iglesias, Brock Holt and Jacoby Ellsbury went down in order, and A.J. Griffin is through seven impressive innings.
Iglesias kicked off the inning with a hard bouncer back up the middle. It looked destined for center field, but it took a detour when Griffin got a glove on it. Jed Lowrie fielded the ricochet and tossed to first for the out.
Holt flied lazily into left field, and Ellsbury flied out to center.
End 6th, Athletics 2-0: Yoenis Cespedes added to Oakland’s run total with an RBI single.
Coco Crisp struck out to begin the inning. Crisp, who had some choice words for home plate umpire Adam Hamari back in the first inning, once again disagreed with the call. And once again, he let Hamari know it.
Jed Lowrie worked a one-out walk, and he moved up to second base when Josh Donaldson singled into center field.
Cespedes, who was robbed of extra bases by Jacoby Ellsbury earlier in the game, came through with a base hit into left field. Daniel Nava came up firing to the plate, but his throw was high and tardy.
The A’s could have added more, but Nate Freiman and Chris Young each popped out to end the inning.
Mid 6th, Athletics 1-0: An error almost came back to haunt the A’s, but A.J. Griffin managed to escape a first-and-third jam.
David Ortiz hit a ground ball into the shift on the right side of the infield, and second baseman Grant Green bobbled it. Green recovered, but his throw to first base took Nate Freiman off the bag, and Ortiz was able to reach.
Mike Napoli chased a 1-2 pitch that was located low for the second out. He has now fanned twice in addition to doubling in the fourth inning.
Daniel Nava made it first and third with a single into right-center field. The ball nearly got into the gap, but Josh Reddick cut it off just in time. That held Nava to a single and prevented Ortiz from scoring.
Griffin escaped the inning by getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out to left field.
End 5th, Athletics 1-0: Jon Lester’s biggest issue throughout his inconsistent stretch has been putting hitters away, especially with two outs. That issue reared its ugly head in the fifth inning.
Chris Young flied out to right field for the first out, and Josh Reddick grounded out for the second out. Reddick’s grounder nearly scooted into left-center field, but Jose Iglesias made a nice play while moving back on it.
Lester looked poised for a quick inning, as he got ahead of Derek Norris with two outs. Lester left an 0-2 fastball up, though, and Norris belted it out of the park.
Dustin Pedroia made a sick running grab in shallow center field to end the inning, but Norris’ home run is the difference in this game.
Mid 5th, 0-0: The Red Sox have stranded five through five.
Brock Holt singled into right field with one out. Holt, who had a two-run single in Friday’s game, has been playing well since being called up.
The Sox couldn’t do anything with Holt’s one-out knock. Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to center, and Shane Victorino bounced down to first base to end the inning.
Victorino had been 2-for-2 before grounding out in the fifth.
End 4th, 0-0: It’s amazing how much ground Jacoby Ellsbury can cover when he turns on the jets.
Ellsbury needed to turn on said jets in the fourth inning. Yoenis Cespedes hit a line drive that was headed toward the right-center field gap, but Ellsbury had other ideas. He ranged a long, long way to rob Cespedes of extra bases with a diving grab.
Ellsbury’s great play came after Josh Donaldson lifted a fly ball to left field. The ball was deep and hung up there a long time, but Daniel Nava camped under it to make the grab.
Jon Lester struck out Wellesley, Mass., native Nate Freiman swinging to end the inning. Lester got him with the changeup, and he now has three strikeouts through four innings.
Mid 4th, 0-0: Mike Napoli got a hold of one in the fourth inning. His home-run bid smashed off the wall, though, and the Red Sox couldn’t push him across following the one-out double.
Napoli drilled his double after David Ortiz flied out to begin the fourth inning. Chris Young nearly threw out Napoli at second, but the slugger dived in head first to beat the tag.
Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia flied out to left field and center field, respectively, to end the inning.
End 3rd, 0-0: Shane Victorino might have a bad hamstring, but it’s getting a good workout in this game.
Victorino, who singled and stole second base in the top of the third inning, made a rangy play to cap the bottom half.
Jon Lester struck out Grant Green to begin the third. Lester painted the outside corner with a fastball to pick up the K.
Coco Crisp then hit a fly ball to left field that stayed up long enough for Daniel Nava to make a play.
Jed Lowrie, who homered in Friday’s game, threatened to shoot the gap in right-center field, but Victorino ranged over and made a nice running grab.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Shane Victorino clearly isn’t 100 percent, but he’s still getting the job done.
Victorino’s efforts didn’t amount to a run in the third inning. However, he’s starting to put together a nice game. He picked up his second hit, and he then stole second base with two outs.
Brock Holt grounded out and Jacoby Ellsbury flied out before Victorino attempted to provide a spark. Dustin Pedroia couldn’t cash in with Victorino in scoring position, though. He grounded to Josh Donaldson, who overcame a minor bobble to complete the out.
Victorino has battled hamstring tightness of late, and you can tell just by watching him that he’s still experiencing some discomfort.
End 2nd, 0-0: The A’s got a little something brewing with two outs, but Jon Lester navigated through the inning’s trouble to keep Oakland scoreless.
Yoenis Cespedes walked to lead off the inning, but Lester nipped that problem in the bud by inducing a 6-4-3 double play. Nate Freiman hit a grounder to Jose Iglesias, and Dustin Pedroia had no problem spinning the double play, as Cespedes certainly didn’t overexert himself while running down to second.
The A’s restarted their rally when Chris Young and Josh Reddick hit back-to-back singles. Young dropped a single in front of Daniel Nava in left field, and Reddick yanked a base hit over the shift and into right field.
Lester got out of the inning when Derek Norris hit a check-swing grounder to the right side. Mike Napoli made the play and flipped to Lester.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Jarrod Saltalamacchia earned a free pass with one down, but a double play put a stop to any potential threat.
Daniel Nava led off by popping out to Josh Donaldson at third base, and Saltalamacchia worked a walk.
A.J. Griffin, who struck out two batters with his curveball in the first inning, then got Jose Iglesias to ground into a double play. Iglesias grounded to second base, where Grant Green made the play and took it to the bag himself before firing to first to complete the twin killing.
End 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester tossed a 1-2-3 first inning.
Lester struck out former teammate Coco Crisp to begin the frame. Crisp got into a full count, but Lester froze him with a fastball on the outside corner. Crisp thought that the pitch was off the plate, and he was visibly frustrated with the call.
Jed Lowrie then popped out to Mike Napoli in foul territory, which there is plenty of in Oakland.
The final out came when Josh Donaldson hit a line drive right at Dustin Pedroia.
Mid 1st, 0-0: A.J. Griffin rode his big, looping curveball to two strikeouts and a scoreless first inning.
The Red Sox did make a little noise, though, as both Shane Victorino and David Ortiz reached base.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who had his 19-game hitting streak snapped Friday, struck out to begin the contest. He went down on three pitches, the last of which was a 68 mph curveball down and out of the zone.
Victorino, who was plunked on the fingers in the eighth inning of Friday’s game, ripped a one-out single into right-center field.
Dustin Pedroia then popped out to the left side before David Ortiz roped a two-out single. Griffin received the benefit of a high strike call in a 3-0 count, but Ortiz squared up his 3-1 offering.
Griffin escaped the inning without any damage by striking out Mike Napoli. Napoli ran the count full, but Griffin got him out in front of a 68 mph curve to pick up the strikeout.
10:08 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury hacks at the first pitch and fouls it off. They’re underway in Oakland.
9:59 p.m.: The Red Sox enter Saturday’s contest with 58 wins, which is the most that the Sox have had before the All-Star break in franchise history.
9:20 p.m.: Saturday’s game marks the fifth of six matchups between the Red Sox and A’s this season. Boston got a monkey off its back with a victory in the series opener, as the Red Sox had not won in Oakland since April 20, 2011.
8:03 p.m.: Reliever Matt Thornton, who was acquired from the White Sox on Friday, has joined the team. To make room for Thornton, Boston has optioned Steven Wright to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Wright will head back down, but it’s not before he left a mark. The knuckleballer pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief in Seattle on Thursday while earning his first major league win. In the process, Wright opened some eyes, so perhaps we’ll see him down the road if the Red Sox need a spot start or an additional reliever.
Thornton gives the Red Sox a left-handed reliever with a proven track record. He was an All-Star in 2010, and he has shown an ability throughout his career to get out both lefties and righties.
There are some concerns surrounding Thornton as he arrives in Boston. But overall, the trade — in which the Red Sox parted ways with minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs and took on the bulk of Thornton’s salary — seems like a worthwhile risk. Check out the link below for more on the Thornton deal.
7:40 p.m.: The lineup cards have been posted. Check them out below.
Red Sox (58-37)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jose Iglesias, SS
Brock Holt, 3B
Jon Lester, LHP (8-5, 4.60 ERA)
Coco Crisp, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Nate Freiman, 1B
Chris Young, CF
Josh Reddick, RF
Derek Norris, C
Grant Green, 2B
A.J. Griffin, RHP (7-6, 3.94 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Friday’s win over the Athletics was, in many ways, a trademark Boston victory.
The Red Sox scored all four of their runs with two outs. The first two came when Brock Holt delivered an RBI single into left field in the second inning to give Boston a 2-0 lead. The final two came when Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run single in the eighth inning to give the Sox a 4-2 lead that they would never relinquish.
John Lackey picked up his seventh win of the season Friday, as he allowed just two runs in seven innings. It was another fantastic start by the 34-year-old, who has really evolved in Boston’s ace with Clay Buchholz sidelined.
Jon Lester figured to be the Red Sox’ ace at one point, but he’s been inconsistent this season. Lester started to show signs of improvement, but he surrendered five runs on nine hits in five innings his last time out against the Mariners, and questions still linger when it comes to the left-hander.
Lester will looked to bounce back in Oakland on Saturday, and he’ll be opposed by A.J. Griffin. The Red Sox have won four in a row, including Friday’s series opener against the A’s, but this weekend’s three-game set remains a tough task for both teams.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET. Everyone is encouraged to stay up late, tune in on NESN and follow the action with NESN.com’s live blog. It should be fun.