OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Jon Lester plans to get away from baseball during the All-Star break. He’s hoping he’ll have different results when he comes back.
Lester pitched into the seventh inning for his ninth quality start but it wasn’t enough as A.J. Griffin and Grant Balfour combined on a seven-hitter to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 3-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli each had two hits for the Red Sox, who saw a four-game winning streak halted.
“I feel like I threw the ball pretty well,” Lester said. “The guy on the other side threw the heck out of the ball. That was pretty impressive. It doesn’t matter how well you pitch when you lose.”
Lester (8-6) has struggled since opening the season 6-0. He’s 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA over his last 11 starts. He’s allowed fewer than three runs once during the stretch after allowing fewer than three in his first four starts and six in his first nine.
“I’m taking a break, getting away for a little bit,” Lester said. “I’ll come back fresh, almost like it’s a new season, at least for me.”
Boston manager John Farrell liked what he saw from Lester. Griffin just outpitched him.
“Jon gave us a solid effort,” he said. “He just happened to pitch on the wrong day given how effective their guy was. We had a number of opportunities, and as we’ve gotten some key hits with two outs the past few nights, it wasn’t the case this time. On a night we score our usual number of runs, we’re probably having a completely different conversation.”
Derek Norris homered on an 0-2 pitch and Yoenis Cespedes added an RBI single to help sabotage Lester’s performance.
“Outside of the 0-2 pitch to Norris, they really manufactured a couple of runs,” Farrell said. “Jon gave us what we intended. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
Griffin (8-6) went eight scoreless innings to remain unbeaten in his last five starts. The Oakland right-hander, who walked one and struck out three, pitched with runners on base in each of the first six innings and twice had to work out of two-on, two-out jams but escaped damage each time.
Lester beat the A’s on April 24 when he allowed three runs over 5 2-3 innings and looked sharp early. Boston’s left-hander allowed only one runner to second until Norris homered, and faced just three over the minimum through five innings.
NOTES: Newly acquired Red Sox LHP Matt Thornton arrived in Oakland before the game and was in uniform. … Boston RHP Brandon Workman will make his first major league start on Sunday. … The crowd of 36,067 marked the A’s ninth sellout of the season. … Umpire CB Bucknor, who was hit in the side of his facemask by a pitch from Oakland’s Jarrod Parker on Friday night, did not suffer a concussion but remains hospitalized for observation. Mike Muchlinski was brought in to replace Bucknor. … Napoli has reached base safely in 26 straight, the longest active streak in the AL.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)