BOSTON — The Oakland Athletics earned one of those character wins Sunday, topping the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in 10 innings.
“No question about it,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said after his American League West-leading club avoided a three-game sweep in Boston. “We’ve played a few of these games over the years with this group — this is one that we get it handed to us a couple of times and now we got to fight as hard as we can with basically nobody on the bench … a left fielder who’s limping around a little bit. Everybody contributed today so this team has been shown to be very resilient at times.”
The left fielder Melvin was talking about is Yoenis Cespedes who, playing on a sore hamstring, barely beat out a bases-loaded, infield hit with two out in the top of the 10th to give the A’s the win.
“It was great,” said third baseman Josh Donaldson. “Nobody wants to get swept by a team.”
The A’s failed to hold 1-0 and 2-1 leads on Sunday, but managed to win to go to 19-12, and finish off a 6-4 trip.
Boston Left-hander Chris Capuano (1-1) got the first two outs in the 10th before Jed Lowrie doubled. Donaldson was walked intentionally and pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo unintentionally to load the bases.
Right-hander Burke Badenhop relieved and Cespedes hit a slow bouncer up the third-base line. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks bare-handed the ball but his throw was just a bit late.
Right-hander Jim Johnson, removed from the closer’s role early last month, got a double play ball to end the ninth and then pitched out of trouble in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.
Johnson (3-2) got help from first baseman Daric Barton, who entered the game in the ninth inning. After Middlebrooks singled and took second on an error by center fielder Coco Crisp, Barton fielded a grounder and threw Middlebrooks out at third on a gutsy play.
“I was breaking off the bat,” said Middlebrooks. “I didn’t know it was to his right, to his left or right at him. Unfortunately it was right at him. This is the big leagues. People are supposed to make plays like that. Normally you don’t see a first baseman that far in, but he made a good play. Hats off to him.”
The loss again kept the Red Sox (15-17) from getting back to .500 for the first time since they were 2-2.
Boston closer Koji Uehara escaped a jam in the ninth, getting right fielder Josh Reddick to hit into a double play. Reddick left the game with a left ankle sprain that kept him from running hard to first base.
A.J. Pierzynski hit a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning, the catcher’s second homer of the season and first career home run at Fenway Park.
After Grady Sizemore tied the game with an RBI double in the fifth inning, Pierzynski led off the seventh with only the second homer of the year off starter Sonny Gray, who turned in another strong start (on the heels of his first big-league shutout).
The Red Sox, with the help of a wind-blown error by Reddick, then had runners on second and third with nobody out but relievers Fernando Abad and Luke Gregerson got out of the inning.
Red Sox starter John Lackey pitched the first six innings, allowing two runs in the sixth straight quality start for Boston, two of them by Lackey.
On Saturday, Jonny Gomes clubbed Boston’s second grand slam in as many games and Jon Lester struck out a career-high 15 to beat the A’s 6-3.
Lester (3-4) dominated through eight innings while allowing one hit and two walks to avoid a third straight loss before the bullpen cleaned up its own mess in the ninth to close it out. David Ortiz and David Ross each added a solo home run for the Red Sox, who took Friday’s series opener behind Dustin Pedroia’s grand slam.
Tommy Milone (0-3) started for the Athletics and loaded the bases on a single and two walks in the first inning before Gomes came up with one out and slammed a first-pitch fastball into the seats above the left-field wall for a quick 4-0 lead. Milone ended up going four innings and was charged with six runs on as many hits and four walks while striking out five.
Ortiz led off the third and blasted an 0-2 changeup over the bullpens in right-center for his sixth home run and a 5-0 gap. Ross got a changeup over the middle in the fourth and lined it into the seats above the “Green Monster” to extend the lead to 6-0.