OAKLAND –- When one scoring opportunity was wasted, another one was waiting just around the corner for the A’s on Friday night.
Coco Crisp finally put an end to the frustration, delivering the go-ahead single with two outs in the eighth inning and leading the A’s to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller hit Kyle Blanks and Alberto Callaspo on back-to-back pitches in the eighth to put two runners aboard. With two outs, Crisp -– who entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh -– worked the count to 2-2 and then lined an opposite-field single to right that scored Blanks, who hustled around from second and came up hobbling after scoring (Miller’s pitch got him in the left leg).
Walks and hit batsmen were a theme on this night, but the A’s didn’t take advantage of earlier scoring opportunities. They pulled through, however, and they’ve taken the first two of this four-game series against the defending World Series champs.
Left-hander Brad Mills went just four innings in his A’s debut, walking four and allowing three runs.
Josh Donaldson connected for a three-run homer in the first, his first long ball since June 6.
Starting pitching report
Despite an impressive first inning, Mills couldn’t find a steady groove in his first major league appearance since July 2012.
He issued a walk in each of his four innings pitched and allowed three runs. With his pitch count at 94, A’s manager Bob Melvin went to his bullpen for the start of the fifth. Mills struck out the side in the first, including getting David Ortiz looking on a slow curve to end the inning.
The Red Sox got to him for two runs in the second. Then Xander Bogaerts drew a leadoff walk in the third and came around to score on David Ortiz’s RBI single through the infield shift on the right side.
Melvin called Mills’ past couple days a “whirlwind” as he arrived Thursday after being acquired from Milwaukee, then took the mound Friday in a foreign ballpark with brand new teammates. Might he get a second start to prove himself? The first impression couldn’t have inspired a ton of confidence.
Stellar work all-around from the A’s relief corps, which delivered five shutout innings after Mills left. Jim Johnson stranded the bases loaded in the fifth. Ryan Cook fired two scoreless innings and Fernando Abad pitched the eighth and got the victory. Then Sean Doolittle closed it out for his 10th save, setting the Sox down in order.
At the plate
Three times the A’s stranded two runners on without scoring before breaking through in the eighth.
They weren’t helped in the fifth when Jed Lowrie and Derek Norris each scorched liners that were snared by Bogaerts at third base.
In the field
Mills’ defense hurt him in the second and then helped him all in the same inning.
Second baseman Nick Punto committed an error with an errant flip to second that should have been a force out. That helped set up Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run single that brought Boston to within 3-2. But with the Sox threatening for bigger damage, center fielder Craig Gentry made a diving catch in center and doubled Stephen Drew off second base to end the inning.
The announced turnout was 28,602.
Coming off an extra day of rest, Jesse Chavez (6-4, 2.93) matches up against Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 2.84) in a 1:05 p.m. game Saturday.