BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox managed to preserve this big lead.
Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer and Adrian Gonzalez added a two-run shot, powering John Lackey and the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
After blowing a four-run lead in the ninth the day before and needing 14 innings to win, the Red Sox welcomed the wire-to-wire victory that completed a three-game sweep of the A’s.
“When you score first and you score more than one, that’s a good formula for winning,” manager Terry Francona said.
It didn’t work Saturday when Boston carried a 7-3 lead into the ninth and blew it before winning the game in 5 hours, 17 minutes. Sunday’s victory was quick and clean, keyed by Crawford’s drive in the second and Gonzalez’s shot in the fourth.
That was plenty of offense for Lackey (3-5), who was coming off a stint on the disabled list with a strained elbow. The right-hander gave up three runs and three hits, walked two and hit three batters in 5 2-3 innings.
“He had better velocity on his fastball. The ball was coming out better,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “Early he cut a few that you could kind of tell he was a little rusty, but for the most part his cutter was back to where I remember it being.”
Saltalamacchia and David Ortiz had three hits apiece, accounting for half of Boston’s dozen on Sunday. Saltalamacchia finished the day with his second career triple, lumbering around the bases before making an exhausted dive into third in the eighth.
Boston swept the A’s to salvage a split of a six-game homestand that started with three losses to the White Sox.
Matt Albers, Tommy Hottovy and Dan Wheeler combined for 2 1-3 innings of two-hit ball before Daniel Bard worked the ninth for his first save of the season — one day after regular closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save opportunity and was ejected in the ninth inning of Boston’s 9-8 victory.
Kevin Kouzmanoff homered for the Athletics, who have lost six straight. Brett Anderson (3-6) allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings.
“Today was pretty much terrible. It’s pretty much as bad a job as I can do,” Anderson said. “My stuff was pretty bad. I need to get my breaking ball to where it was. It’s kind of rolling in there.
Boston now heads to New York for a three-game series with the first-place Yankees beginning on Tuesday.
The Red Sox got off to a fast start Sunday behind Crawford, who hit his fifth homer after David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie started the second inning with consecutive singles.
It was Crawford’s first homer at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox.
“I was starting to wonder for a while, you know,” he said.
Kouzmanoff led off the third with his fourth homer and Daric Barton added a run-scoring single in the fourth, but Boston responded in the bottom half.
Gonzalez’s drive into the Green Monster seats above left field made it 5-2 and gave him 50 RBIs just 59 games into the season. It was the second homer in as many games for the big first baseman, who has 12 for the season after hitting just one in his first month with the Red Sox.
Lackey had some control problems in his first start since May 11. His last hit batter was Conor Jackson, who stole second and scored when Barton doubled off Albers to get Oakland within two in the sixth.
But Francona wasn’t worried about the hit batters after watching Lackey’s return, which ended after 93 pitches.
After a stint on the 15-day disabled list, that was as far as Francona wanted to push his starter.
“Lack knows how to pitch,” Francona said. “We didn’t want to undo what we had done the past few weeks.”
Fautino De Los Santos, who struck out the only batter he faced in his major league debut on Saturday, had a more difficult time in his second appearance. Jacoby Ellsbury singled off De Los Santos with one out in the sixth, then advanced on two wild pitches and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s single to left.
That put Boston up 6-3 and the bullpen held it, something it failed to do the day before when Oakland erased a 7-3 deficit in the ninth.
The A’s had won four straight before they were swept in consecutive three-game series against the Yankees and Red Sox.
“We swung the bats better this series,” second baseman Mark Ellis said. “We ran into a couple of good teams and they beat us up pretty good.”
NOTES: Francona said before the game that Clay Buchholz has been pushed back in the rotation in order to give his back some more rest. Tim Wakefield with take Buchholz’s spot on Wednesday against the Yankees and Buchholz will start Friday at Toronto. … Oakland manager Bob Geren gave slumping DH Hideki Matsui the day off. Matsui broke a career-worst 0-for-19 slump with an 11th-inning single Saturday. … The Red Sox last swept the A’s in August 2008.