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A’s take series against Red Sox, win finale 4-2

Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis attempts to stop a ground ball hit by Dayan Viciedo of the Chicago White Sox in the second inning of a game in Chicago on Saturday, April 28, 2012.
The Associated Press

BOSTON — Brandon McCarthy beat an AL East opponent once again, holding Boston to one run over 6 2/3 innings as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Red Sox 4-2 Wednesday night.

Seth Smith drove in a pair of runs for Oakland. The A’s, who started the day with the majors’ worst batting average and fewest runs in the AL, took two of three games from the Red Sox.

Boston has lost seven of its last eight in Fenway Park.

McCarthy (2-3) allowed five hits, walked three and fanned four. He improved to 8-0 with a 3.34 ERA since 2009 against AL East clubs.

Brian Fuentes gave up Dustin Pedroia’s RBI double in the ninth, but got his first save.

Daniel Bard (2-3) took the loss, allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, recalled earlier in the day when Kevin Youkilis was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained lower back, went 2 for 3 with a double and a stolen base in his first major league game.

David Ortiz went 2 for 4 and is hitting .488 in Fenway.

Bard breezed through the first three innings, allowing only Cliff Pennington’s first-inning single and a walk in each of the next two before the A’s grabbed a 1-0 lead on Smith’s RBI single in the fourth.

They took advantage of left fielder Cody Ross misplaying Smith’s RBI double in the sixth, scored three runs and chased Bard to open a 4-0 edge.

Smith lofted a fly near the corner that Ross overran, and the ball bounced on the track behind him. Kila Ka’aihue followed with a double into the right-field corner and, after Bard hit Kurt Suzuki on the left hand, Brandon Inge had an RBI double. Matt Albers got the next two batters, stranding runners on second and third.

Boston had the first two runners on in the fifth, but Marlon Byrd failed on two sacrifice attempts before popping out. McCarthy then easily retired the next two hitters — Mike Aviles and Ryan Sweeney.

Byrd’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1 in the seventh.

Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and bounced out to end the game. He went 0 for 4 and is hitless for his last 15 at-bats.

NOTES: Middlebrooks drew a four-pitch walk in his first plate appearance, then stole his first base four pitches later. He had an infield hit in his first at-bat. … The teams wore 1936 throwback uniforms. That year, the A’s — then in Philadelphia — sold Jimmie Foxx to the Red Sox. His daughter, Nanci Foxx Canaday, was at the game. … Oakland 2B Jemile Weeks was out with a strained groin and manager Bob Melvin felt it would be best to rest him with an off-day on Thursday. … Boston C Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned 27 Wednesday.

Youkilis on 15-day DL

The Red Sox placed third baseman Kevin Youkilis on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday because of a strained back.

Boston also promoted Triple-A prospect Will Middlebrooks to take Youkilis’ roster spot.

Youkilis had been a late scratch the past three days, and manager Bobby Valentine said he has improved but wouldn’t have been able to play for at least another four days. He last played Saturday night in a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Youkilis has struggled this season, hitting just .219 with two homers and nine RBIs in 18 games. He feels that his back was getting better, but knew he needed to go on the DL.

“Things are going well but they want to get a step ahead of it and get me as healthy as possible,” he said before Wednesday night’s game against Oakland.

Middlebrooks was hitting .333 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 24 games with Pawtucket. He was inserted in the starting lineup, batting eighth and playing third.

Valentine also said Josh Beckett would miss his next start Saturday because of soreness in his right side and Aaron Cook would be placed on the roster and pitch in his place. Cook, who had an opt-out clause if the team did not recall him soon, went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in five games with Pawtucket.

“Aaron Cook’s been retained by us,” Valentine said. “We’re going to keep him, start him Saturday in Josh’s spot for one start.”

Valentine said Beckett’s high pitch totals his last two starts has the right-hander dealing with more soreness than usual.

“We’re going to play it safe,” he said. “He’s been throwing more pitches and he has some lat stiffness.”

Boston also recalled right-hander Clayton Mortensen from Pawtucket to fill a roster spot after Lars Anderson was optioned back after last night’s 5-3 loss to the Athletics.

Mortensen, acquired in a trade for shortstop Marco Scutaro during the offseason, allowed two runs in six relief appearances with Pawtucket.

A’s beat Red Sox 5-3

BOSTON — As hard as he tried, Jarrod Parker couldn’t quite stop a grin from coming to his face in Oakland’s locker room.

He was entitled to a little emotion after keeping his composure while shutting down Boston’s resurgent offense and picking up his first major league win when the Oakland Athletics beat the Red Sox 5-3 on Tuesday night.

“It’s pretty cool,” Parker said between grins. “I don’t think it will set in until maybe tomorrow or when I’m fielding phone calls later tonight.”

The 23-year-old right-hander scattered four hits over 6 2-3 innings, holding Boston to just a run one night after the Red Sox racked up 11 runs on 11 hits off Oakland pitchers.

The few times Parker got in trouble, he quickly got himself out of the threat before it could get worse as the A’s evened the three-game series 1-all on a frigid night at Fenway Park.

“As long as he throws the ball over the plate with his stuff, he’s going to have some success,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “I don’t want to say you worry, but you really want to see how a young pitcher like that handles his first time at Fenway Park and he handled it beautifully.”

Jemile Weeks ended on 0-for-12 slump with a leadoff single and finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored for the A’s, who ended a three-game losing streak.

Oakland scored the first five runs and provided plenty of security for Parker (1-0), who was making just his third start in the majors.

Parker was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento last Wednesday and got a no-decision against Chicago that night. Parker struck out four, walked two and hit a batter before getting pulled in the seventh inning.

Parker said he just followed catcher Kurt Suzuki’s lead and didn’t try anything fancy.

“I don’t think we threw more than five or six breaking balls. Just going at guys moving the ball in and out was effective tonight,” Parker said.

Boston starter Felix Doubront (1-1) wasn’t nearly as effective. The left-hander threw 30 pitches in the first inning alone and struggled through four innings. He struck out eight, but also allowed six hits, walked two and threw two wild pitches while allowing five runs.

“He’s been the master of the one-ball, two-strike count and tonight he was behind virtually ever hitter,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said.

The Red Sox had just four hits until Cody Ross led off the ninth with a double to left off of Grant Balfour. Marlon Byrd singled with one out, Punto walked to load the bases for Mike Aviles, who lined a single to center and cut Oakland’s lead to 5-3.

“We’re down 5-1. It’s very easy to fold, get three quick outs and take it to the house,” Aviles said. “It’s cold weather, nasty weather, but I think it just shows a lot about the team. We came back and we tried to give it a little fight.”

Jordan Norberto came in for Oakland and got the save, striking out Lars Anderson and getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out to second. It was Norberto’s first save in the majors, leaving the A’s in a bit of a quandary deciding whether the reliever or starter would get the game ball.

“I don’t know who has the ball,” Parker said. “We might have to cut it in half.”

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