A road trip that began with such hope and promise for the A’s ended with a punch to the gut Sunday.
Equipped with a four-run lead entering the bottom of the eighth, the A’s watched the Boston Red Sox blitz them for a seven-run rally that led to a stunning 7-4 loss.
The A’s were primed to finish this six-game road trip on a high note behind a terrific start from right-hander Kendall Graveman. Instead they suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of Boston, right on the heels of the A’s notching their own sweep in Detroit. Oakland finished their trip 3-3 and, incredibly, have now gone 11 straight road trips with a .500 or worse record dating back to June 2014.
Leading 4-0, Graveman exited after allowing Rusney Castillo’s solo homer to open the bottom of the eighth. He still was in line for his third victory in four starts. But the Sox struck for six runs off three relievers, including Xander Bogaerts’ two-run go-ahead double with two outs off A’s closer Tyler Clippard.
Boston erupted for seven runs on seven hits in the eighth and sent 11 men to the plate.
After winning nine of 12 heading into Fenway Park, the A’s dropped their third in a row and will contemplate this one over a day off Monday before beginning a three-game home series against Texas.
Starting pitching report
Graveman was terrific on a day the A’s needed a big effort from him. He went seven-plus innings and held Boston to one run on six hits. That run came on his 101st and final pitch, as Rusney Castillo belted a homer to get the Sox on the board. The right-hander struck out six and walked two, and he retired 13 in a row leading up to Castillo’s homer. He could only watch as things disintegrated after he left the game.
Evan Scribner relieved Graveman and gave up three singles, including Hanley Ramirez’s RBI hit that made it 4-2. Drew Pomeranz entered and retired David Ortiz on a sacrifice fly that closed it to a run. But Clippard (0-3), called upon by manager Bob Melvin to attempt a five-out save, couldn’t limit the damage. He wound up charged with three runs on four hits in one-third of an inning before Pat Venditte got the third out.
At the plate
For the first time in the series, the A’s were the ones jumping out to an early lead. Credit the bottom of the batting order for the offensive spark. The Nos. 7-9 hitters – Mark Canha, Josh Phegley and Eric Sogard – went a combined 4-for-4 with three RBI and two runs through the first four innings, when Oakland commanded a 4-0 lead. Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz , who had pitched into the eighth inning in each of his past four starts, was gone by the fifth.
Canha, drawing the start in left field with Ben Zobrist on the bench, went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI. Phegley doubled twice with an RBI. Josh Reddick enjoyed a three-hit day with a run.
In the field
After Graveman allowed back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the third, he got a lift from his defense. Brett Lawrie fielded Hanley Ramirez’s grounder, stepped on the third-base bag and fired across the diamond for a double play to nip that rally in the bud.
It’s a quick three-game homestand against the Rangers before the A’s head right back out on the road. After being off Monday, Oakland sends Sonny Gray (7-2, 1.65) to the hill in Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. opener against Nick Martinez (4-2, 2.89). Wednesday – Jesse Hahn (3-5, 3.51) vs. Yovani Gallardo (5-6, 3.54), 7:05 p.m. Thursday – Scott Kazmir (2-4, 3.14) vs. Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-0, 0.00), 12:35 p.m. All three games will air on CSN California.