Sports

From Bad To Worse

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Bobby Valentine  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Bobby Valentine (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ There are some common themes for the
beaten down, stumbling Boston Red Sox lately.

Their starting pitchers take a pounding early and the hitters
are left trying to play catch up. Those hitters still left, that
is.

Seth Smith hit a two-run homer, Stephen Drew hit a solo shot for
his first clout since joining Oakland and the Athletics beat Boston
6-2 on Sunday for their season-best ninth straight win.

And the sixth straight defeat for the Red Sox, who traded away
several star players to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 25.

“We don’t have the firepower to keep climbing out of big holes
early,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “It’s a tough way to make a
living.”

The A’s outscored the Red Sox 33-5 in the series and hit nine
home runs _ five of those in Friday night’s 20-2 rout, two Saturday
and two more Sunday. That after hitting four in the series finale
at Cleveland on Thursday.

“It’s unacceptable,” Boston right fielder Cody Ross said.

Red Sox starting pitchers have lasted 3 2-3 innings or fewer in
each of the past three games, a first since June 16-18, 2000.

The A’s won their eighth in a row against the Red Sox to match
their longest winning streak in the rivalry since the Philadelphia
A’s did so May 2-28, 1932. The 8-1 record against Boston also set
an Oakland single-season mark, topping the previous 9-3 by the 1971
and `88 teams and the 18-3 by the 1928 squad.

“We’re really not doing anything well,” second baseman Dustin
Pedroia said. “Nobody’s quitting. We’re professionals, we’re going
to play as hard as we can. This isn’t a trying league. You have to
play well and perform well to win games, and we haven’t done
that.”

The low-budget A’s are doing it all.

In one impressive 10-day stretch, Oakland (76-57) is suddenly in
a tie with the New York Yankees for the second-best record in the
American League behind the two-time reigning AL champion Texas
Rangers (79-54).

“It’s crazy,” pitcher Brett Anderson said. “Who would have
predicted that Sept. (2) that we’d be tied with the Yankees for the
same record? Everything’s working right now _ offense, defense,
pitching. When that’s happening, special things are going to
happen.”

Anderson (3-0) won his third straight start since returning from
a 14-month absence to recover from Tommy John surgery. Having him
back is a big boost for the AL wild-card leading A’s down the
stretch after they lost Bartolo Colon to a 50-game suspension Aug.
22.

Reddick added a sacrifice fly and Yoenis Cespedes drove in a run
with a groundout for the A’s. They have the club’s longest winning
run since 10 in a row from June 8-18, 2006, in the last year they
reached the playoffs.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4) had another rough day in the
right-hander’s second straight short start at the Oakland Coliseum.
On July 2, Dice-K allowed five runs in one-plus inning while
dealing with a stiff neck. This time, he was tagged for a
season-high six runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out
four and walked four in his second-shortest outing after that
previous start here.

Matsuzaka is 0-3 with an 11.81 ERA on the road _ including 0-2
with a 21.21 ERA in the two stops at Oakland.

“I don’t necessarily feel that I pitch poorly here but this
team’s really hot right now,” he said. “I’m really disappointed
as a starter I wasn’t able to do my job today.”

Drew, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 20, also
hit an RBI single in the third and an eighth-inning double for his
first three-hit game for Oakland. Coco Crisp walked twice, scored
two runs and stole his 31st base.

Anderson allowed one run on five hits in six innings, struck out
four and walked one in another impressive day since returning from
his injury _ even if he raised his ERA from 0.64 to 0.90.

After Pedroia reached on an infield single in the sixth inning
that was stopped from going for extra bases by diving third baseman
Josh Donaldson, Ross hit an RBI single. Scott Podsednik tried to
score from second but left fielder Cespedes grabbed Ross’
one-hopper and fired home to catcher Derek Norris to save a second
run.

Mauro Gomez hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth for the Red Sox.
Boston dropped its sixth straight and remained winless on this West
Coast swing, which finishes with a three-game series at Seattle
beginning Monday.

Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a
first-inning single.

“You have to believe it’s going to turn around,” Pedroia said.
“It’s not fun, especially in this atmosphere. We never lost
before.”

NOTES: Boston beat Oakland at Fenway Park on April 30, then lost
the next eight meetings with the Athletics this year. … Dice-K
threw 97 pitches during his short outing. … Red Sox CF Jacoby
Ellsbury got a scheduled day off. … Boston recalled INF Ivan
DeJesus Jr. _ another player from the Dodgers trade _ from Triple-A
Pawtucket.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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