BOSTON — Carl Crawford has struggled all season against lefthanders. And when it comes to driving in runs, he’s been much better on the road.
With one pitch Friday night, that all changed.
Crawford blooped a go-ahead, two-run single to center field in the seventh inning off Brian Fuentes and the Boston Red Sox ended a four-game losing streak with an 8-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
“You’ve got the bases loaded with two outs” and a full count, Crawford said. “You know he can’t really play around too much right there. You know at some point he has to throw you a pitch where you can hit.”
It actually was a tough pitch to hit — inside and close to Crawford’s hands. Still, he managed to send it just beyond second base to give Boston a 7-6 lead.
“We had a chance to bring Brian in against a lefty that’s been hitting about .100 against lefties,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “It’s unfortunate. He made a good pitch.”
Before his hit, Crawford was batting just .103 (7 for 68) against lefties this season. Of his 21 RBIs before Friday, only six were at Fenway Park, although two came from walkoff hits.
“He worked the count really well,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “By no means did he crush that ball, but he stayed on it enough and it found the outfield grass and made everybody happy.”
Joey Devine (0-1) had loaded the bases in the inning when he allowed a double by Adrian Gonzalez, hit Kevin Youkilis and walked David Ortiz. After retiring Jed Lowrie on a fly ball, Devine was replaced by Fuentes.
“In the sixth with our bullpen with the lead, I like our chances,” Geren said. “We have a good bullpen.”
Boston had rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the first and trailed 6-5 when Crawford, who has nine RBIs in his last nine games, delivered.
“I was just hoping it got through,” Crawford said. “When I saw that, I was feeling a lot better, just watched it all the way until it dropped.”
Bobby Jenks (2-2) got the win and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 12 opportunities.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia added a solo homer, his fifth of the year, for the Red Sox in the eighth.
The Red Sox ended their longest losing streak since they began the season 0-6. The A’s dropped their fourth straight after winning four in a row.
“The type of ball we were playing (early in the season) compared to now is just two different teams,” Jenks said. “Going out of spring training, this is what we were all expecting to start the year. It just showed up a little late but it’s here now.”
The A’s ripped Clay Buchholz for four runs and five hits in the first, but the Red Sox came back to take a 5-4 lead after the third. Oakland tied it with a run in the fourth before taking a 6-5 lead on Daric Barton’s RBI single in the fifth.
“It’s good to get some runs early,” Oakland’s Josh Willingham said, “but you have to give them credit. They came back.”
David DeJesus started the first-inning rally with a single, took second on a single by Willingham and scored when Hideki Matsui grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Then Buchholz have up three straight hits — a single by Kurt Suzuki that sent Matsui to second, an RBI single by Barton and a two-run single by Mark Ellis.
The Red Sox began chipping away at the 4-0 lead with two runs in the bottom of the first. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single, took second on his 20th stolen base of the season and third on a wild pitch then scored on Gonzalez’s groundout. Youkilis followed with a double and scored on Ortiz’s single.
Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly made it 4-3 in the second and Boston took the lead in the third when Ortiz doubled in one run and Lowrie singled in another off starter Josh Outman. After retiring the next batter, Outman was replaced by Guillermo Moscoso, who pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings.
Oakland tied the score at 5 when Kevin Kouzmanoff singled, took second on a wild pickoff throw by Buchholz and third on a wild pitch before scoring on Coco Crisp’s groundout.
Buchholz kept struggling in the fifth. Willingham led off with a double, moved up on a flyout by Matsui and scored on a single by Barton that drove Buchholz from the game.
Notes: The Red Sox transferred RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka from the 15- to the 60-day DL and placed LHP Rich Hill on the 15-day DL, both with elbow injuries. Francona said after the game that Matsuzaka would have season-ending Tommy John surgery, probably next week. … The Athletics placed RHP Grant Balfour on paternity leave and recalled RHP Fautino De Los Santos from Triple-A Sacramento. … In his other appearance this season against Oakland, Buchholz allowed one run in 5 1-3 innings in a 5-3 win on April 20. … Tommy Hottovy, a 2004 draft choice by Boston, made his major league debut, retiring the only batter he faced to end the sixth. … Fuentes was 0-4 with two saves in his previous seven appearances.
Rangers 11, Indians 2
CLEVELAND — Alexi Ogando won his sixth game without a loss, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz homered in a five-run seventh inning and the Texas Rangers routed the Cleveland Indians 11-2 Friday night.
Ogando (6-0) held the Indians to one run and four hits in eight innings. He has allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his 11 starts while pitching at least six innings in each outing.
The victory continued the Rangers’ dominance of the Indians over the last three seasons. Texas has beaten Cleveland 14 times in the last 17 games between the teams and has won nine of 10 games at Progressive Field. The Rangers have won nine of 12 overall and are 14-8 since May 10.
The Indians have the best record in the American League, but are 13-14 since May 3 and have lost four straight at home.
Texas took a 2-1 lead into the seventh before putting the game away with home runs off reliever Tony Sipp. Hamilton hit a three-run drive on an 0-2 pitch. After Adrian Beltre’s flyball fell between outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo resulted in a double, Cruz homered on Sipp’s next pitch.
Elvis Andrus, who had four hits, added a three-run double off Chad Durbin in the eighth. The Rangers had 19 hits, one short of their season high.
Justin Masterson (5-4) allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings, dropping his fourth straight decision. He hasn’t won since April 26.
Cleveland’s best chance against Ogando came in the sixth when singles by Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera put runners at first and third to start the inning. Ogando then got Choo to hit into a double play, with Brantley scoring, and struck out Carlos Santana to end the inning.
Cabrera hit a solo home run in the ninth.
Endy Chavez, who was 4 for 4 on Thursday, had an RBI double in the second while Michael Young drove in a third-inning run with a fielder’s choice.
Masterson retired the first batter in the seventh, but was removed after Ian Kinsler walked and Andrus singled. Sipp was called on to face Hamilton, who was batting .179 against left-handers, but that strategy failed. Hamilton’s line drive cleared the wall in right near the Rangers’ bullpen. Following Beltre’s gift double, Cruz drove his home run deep into the seats in right-center.
Cleveland third baseman Jack Hannahan was a late scratch from the lineup because of a sore left hamstring. He was replaced by Adam Everett.
NOTES: OF Julio Borbon was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Round Rock. He had been out since mid-May with a strained hamstring. … The Rangers’ 7-4 victory on Thursday was the first time they have rallied from a three-run deficit to win a game this season. … RHP Alex White (sore middle finger) has been sent to extended spring training to begin a rehab program. He’s expected to miss about 10 more weeks. … 1B Nick Johnson, signed by the Indians to a minor league contract in February, has been activated from extended spring training and joined Double-A Akron. Johnson had wrist surgery last season.