Final, Athletics 3-2: The Red Sox fell short in the 10th inning.
Will Middlebrooks led off with a sinking line drive into right-center field that got down for a hit. The ball bounced up and off center fielder Coco Crisp, enabling Middlebrooks to take second base.
Unfortunately for the Sox, Middlebrooks was thrown out at third base while trying to advance on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s ground ball to the right side. Dustin Pedroia then grounded into a game-ending double play.
Sunday’s series finale truly was a game of inches. Yoenis Cespedes’ swinging bunt in the 10th inning proved to be the difference in a game with several bang-bang plays.
Jim Johnson earned the win for Oakland, while Chris Capuano suffered the loss for Boston.
The Red Sox are off Monday. They’ll return to action Tuesday for a brief two-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Fenway Park before heading back out on the road.
Mid 10th, Athletics 3-2: Make it two straight rocky performances for Chris Capuano.
Capuano hadn’t surrendered a run over his first 15 innings pitched before Saturday. He gave up three runs (two earned) before Koji Uehara closed out that game, and the left-hander again struggled in this contest.
Capuano got two quick outs in the 10th inning before Jed Lowrie doubled into left-center field. The left-hander then intentionally walked Josh Donaldson with first base open and walked pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo, prompting John Farrell to call upon Burke Badenhop with the right-handed-hitting Yoenis Cespedes coming up.
Cespedes hit a slow roller down the third base line in an 0-2 count. Will Middlebrooks charged in to make a terrific barehanded play, but Cespedes just beat the throw at first base to give Oakland a 3-2 lead.
End 9th, 2-2: Nine innings wasn’t enough to decide Sunday’s series finale.
The Red Sox were held scoreless in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jonny Gomes grounded into an inning-ending double play after Xander Bogaerts singled with one out.
A.J. Pierzynski tried to bunt his way aboard with third baseman Josh Donaldson playing back. That plan failed miserably, as Donaldson still threw out Pierzynski by plenty.
Bogaerts ripped a single into left-center field, at which point the A’s turned to closer Jim Johnson. Johnson got Gomes to ground to third base, where Donaldson began a 5-4-3 double play.
Mid 9th, 2-2: It wasn’t as clean as we’re accustomed to seeing. But Koji Uehara still kept the Athletics off the scoreboard in the ninth.
John Jaso singled and Derek Norris walked — that’s right, Koji issued a walk — in the ninth inning. Uehara closed off the threat, however, by inducing a ground ball to short, where Xander Bogaerts started a 6-4-3, inning-ending double play.
Josh Reddick came up lame out of the box on the double play, and he’s coming out of this game. Brandon Moss will shift to right field and Daric Barton will play first base.
A.J. Pierzynski, Xander Bogaerts and Jonny Gomes are due up in the ninth inning for Boston.
End 8th, 2-2: The Red Sox’s aggressiveness on the bases didn’t pay off in the eighth inning.
Mike Carp singled into right-center field with two outs after Shane Victorino and David Ortiz grounded to short and second base, respectively. The A’s then called upon reliever Sean Doolittle.
Doolittle didn’t even finish his battle with A.J. Pierzynski because Jonathan Herrera, who pinch-ran for Carp at first base, was thrown out at second base on a stolen-base attempt. Derek Norris fired a perfect strike that beat Herrera by a lot.
Mike Napoli will enter the game defensively at first base as Koji Uehara takes over on the mound with the score tied 2-2.
Mid 8th, 2-2: Junichi Tazawa worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Tazawa struck out Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson as part of the perfect frame. Brandon Moss flied out to right field to end the inning.
End 7th, 2-2: A.J. Pierzynski picked a good time for his first career home run at Fenway Park.
Pierzynski launched a solo homer over the Red Sox’s bullpen in the seventh inning to tie the game at two apiece. He labeled it, and there wasn’t much doubt it was clearing the fence.
Sonny Gray then walked Xander Bogaerts, which spelled the end of the pitcher’s start. The A’s turned to lefty Fernando Abad.
Abad faced a pinch-hitter in Jonny Gomes. Gomes lifted a high fly ball to right field, and again the wind wreaked havoc on the baseball. The ball sailed deeper than Josh Reddick anticipated and clanked off the right fielder’s glove.
Gomes stopped, started, stopped and started again so that he didn’t pass Bogaerts, who was caught between first and second base for what initially looked like a routine fly ball. Gomes ended up at second base while Bogaerts raced into third.
The Red Sox tried a safety squeeze with Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate — something that Boston has executed a couple of times this season with Jonathan Herrera batting. Abad fielded the bunt cleanly and looked Bogaerts back, though, and the A’s managed to record an out without the go-ahead run scoring.
Luke Gregerson entered with two outs and Dustin Pedroia digging in. Pedroia grounded to third base for the third out.
Mid 7th, Athletics 2-1: Andrew Miller took over in the seventh inning after John Lackey went the first six innings.
Miller struck out two while working a 1-2-3 frame. Josh Reddick went down swinging and Eric Sogard went down looking before Coco Crisp lined to right fielder Shane Victorino.
Lackey gave up two earned runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out four, walked three and threw 107 pitches (70 strikes).
End 6th, Athletics 2-1: Dustin Pedroia opened the bottom of the sixth inning with an infield single.
Pedroia hit a comebacker that deflected off pitcher Sonny Gray’s glove and toward shortstop Jed Lowrie. The Red Sox couldn’t do anything with the leadoff single, though.
Shane Victorino popped out, David Ortiz grounded into a forceout and Mike Carp grounded out.
Mid 6th, Athletics 2-1: John Lackey has issued three walks in this game. Two have come back to hurt him.
Brandon Moss singled home Josh Donaldson following a two-out walk in the first inning. Yoenis Cespedes doubled home Donaldson following a leadoff walk in the sixth inning.
Cespedes tattooed a ball high off the Green Monster in left-center field with one out in the sixth. The ball looked like it was going to leave the yard off the bat and plunked a couple of feet below the top of the wall.
Cespedes moved to third base on John Jaso’s groundout, but Lackey minimized the damage.
End 5th, 1-1: The Red Sox finally got to Sonny Gray in the fifth inning.
Mike Carp led off with a single into right field. A.J. Pierzynski increased Boston’s threat with a soft ground ball to the right side that Eric Sogard ranged over to grab but couldn’t accurately toss over to first base in time.
Grady Sizemore tied the game with a one-out double down the right field line that plated Carp from second base. Pierzynski trucked around from first base on a double Friday night, but the 37-year-old catcher was held at third base this time around.
Gray, to his credit, minimized the damage. Will Middlebrooks walked to load the bases, but Gray got Jackie Bradley Jr. to hit a chopper back to the mound. The A’s right-hander started a 1-2-3, inning-ending double play to keep the game tied.
Mid 5th, Athletics 1-0: This game is turning into a pitchers’ duel.
John Lackey and Sonny Gray both are pitching well, and Brandon Moss’ first-inning RBI single remains the difference.
Lackey retired the side in order in the fifth inning.
Eric Sogard tried to bunt his way aboard, but third baseman Will Middlebrooks charged in to make the play.
Coco Crisp grounded to second base and Jed Lowrie popped out.
The wind is doing some funny things to the baseball here at Fenway Park. Sizemore made an adventurous catch to end the fourth inning, and Bogaerts needed to race back toward the middle of the infield to make an inning-ending grab in the fifth.
End 4th, Athletics 1-0: Sonny Gray has been impressive.
Gray worked another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, retiring Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino and David Ortiz in order.
There was a cute little moment in the fourth inning, too. A group of kids were called upon to introduce the Red Sox hitters, and one youngster stumbled a bit while introducing Ortiz. Everyone waited it out, though, and the kid ultimately prevailed.
Both Ortiz and Gray shared a laugh, and Big Papi even applauded the kid’s effort.
Mid 4th, Athletics 1-0: John Lackey’s one run allowed back in the first inning came after a two-out walk. The right-hander made sure he didn’t suffer a similar fate in the fourth inning.
Lackey struck out Yoenis Cespedes and retired John Jaso on a popout before walking Derek Norris with two down. This time, Lackey rebounded to take care of Josh Reddick on a fly ball to left field.
Grady Sizemore handled Reddicks’ fly ball, but it was an adventure. The wind blew the ball toward center field and the infield, and Sizemore actually had to slide while making the catch.
End 3rd, Athletics 1-0: Grady Sizemore kicked off the bottom of the third inning with a single, but Sonny Gray induced a double play that kept Boston at bay.
Will Middlebrooks grounded to third base, where Josh Donaldson tossed to second base for a forceout. Jackie Bradley Jr. then bounced to second, where Eric Sogard started an inning-ending twin killing.
Gray has been sharp through three innings.
Mid 3rd, Athletics 1-0: There was some more controversy in the third inning.
The A’s had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the frame. Oakland manager Bob Melvin came out for a discussion with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, at which point crew chief Jeff Kellogg called for a review to determine whether Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski illegally blocked the plate.
The A’s would have been unable to challenge the play had Kellogg not called for a review because they already challenged the first play of the game.
The umpires ultimately confirmed the call, ruling that Pierzynski did not block the plate illegally, as the catcher had the ball before his foot blocked Josh Donaldson’s slide.
So how did we get there?
Well, Donaldson singled into right field with two outs. Brandon Moss, who knocked in Oakland’s first run, then doubled into the corner. The Red Sox executed a nice relay that culminated with the controversial play at home.
End 2nd, Athletics 1-0: Sonny Gray has retired the first six hitters he has faced.
Mike Carp, A.J. Pierzynski and Xander Bogaerts went down in order in the second inning.
Carp and Pierzynski both put the ball on the ground to second base. Bogaerts flied out to right field.
Mid 2nd, Athletics 1-0: Derek Norris hit a screamer off the left field wall for a Fenway single. That was the extent of Oakland’s offense against John Lackey in the second inning.
Lackey struck out John Jaso to begin the inning and then struck out Josh Reddick after Norris’ one-out knock. Jaso chased a cutter, while Reddick went down looking at a fastball that caught the bottom of the strike zone.
Eric Sogard grounded to short to end the inning.
End 1st, Athletics 1-0: The Red Sox made some solid contact against Sonny Gray in the first inning. They have nothing to show for it.
Dustin Pedroia began the inning with a high fly ball down the right field line. Josh Reddick drifted over to make the catch on the warning track, but the play turned into somewhat of an adventure before he recorded the out. Reddick ended up catching the ball down near his waist.
Shane Victorino grounded to third base and David Ortiz struck out swinging. Ortiz smoked a 3-1 fastball, but he was out ahead of it and yanked it foul.
Mid 1st, Athletics 1-0: The A’s jumped ahead 1-0 following Bob Melvin’s failed challenge attempt.
The umpires upheld their initial call after Coco Crisp was thrown out at first base on a bang-bang play. The umps determined there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn the call.
Jed Lowrie then flied out, but John Lackey’s two-out walk proved costly. Josh Donaldson swiped second base after earning a free pass and scored when Brandon Moss singled into center field.
1:38 p.m.: There’s something about John Lackey and first-pitch challenges.
The A’s challenged a bang-bang play at first base on the game’s first pitch. Coco Crisp was called out, and the umpires upheld the call after a review lasting approximately one minute, 35 seconds.
This is the second time this season the Red Sox have had a play challenged following the game’s first pitch. Both instances have come at Fenway, and both have come with Lackey pitching.
11:45 a.m.: Mike Napoli will be out of the Red Sox’s lineup for Sunday’s series finale.
Napoli’s absence is a routine off day, although the first baseman is dealing with some physical issues, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. Napoli, who dislocated his finger earlier this season, has been getting his finger taped up in the dugout during games, and Farrell thought it would be best to give the slugger a day off, especially with the Red Sox off Monday.
Mike Carp will bat cleanup and play first base in Napoli’s absence. A.J. Pierzynski will slide up into the No. 5 spot in the lineup.
Sunday’s complete lineups are below.
Boston Red Sox (15-16)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Carp 1B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Grady Sizemore, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
John Lackey, RHP (4-2, 3.83 ERA)
Oakland Athletics (18-12)
Coco Crisp, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Brandon Moss, 1B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
John Jaso, DH
Derek Norris, C
Josh Reddick, RF
Eric Sogard, 2B
Sonny Gray, RHP (4-1, 1.76 ERA)
11:30 a.m. ET: Can the Boston Red Sox finally get back to .500?
The .500 mark has been elusive, but the Red Sox could even up their season record Sunday with a victory over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. The Sox also could make a huge statement by sweeping the A’s, who entered the three-game weekend series with the best record in the American League.
Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester have provided excellent pitching performances so far in the series. Lester’s effort on Saturday was particularly impressive, as the left-hander struck out a career-high 15 over eight shutout innings in which he surrendered just one hit and two walks.
John Lackey will look to continue Boston’s stretch of impressive starting pitching, and he’ll need to be sharp because Oakland is countering with its ace, Sonny Gray. Gray, who made a name for himself in the playoffs last season, is 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA. The combination of Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez has combined to go 10-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 18 starts this season for the A’s.
Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Tune in on NESN and keep it right here with NESN.com throughout the day for updates.