OAKLAND, Calif. — Scott Kazmir continued his career year Thursday night, one that just might include a stop at the All-Star Game.
The Oakland A’s left-hander threw seven strong innings and won his fourth decision in a row, lifting the A’s to a 4-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series at the O.co Coliseum.
Kazmir (9-2) struck out eight, walked none and allowed just two runs on four hits.
“It would mean a lot, it would,” Kazmir said of making the American League All-Star team. “At the same time, there’s only really one thing on my mind. That’s getting to the postseason and going as deep as we can. I feel like we have the team to do it. We just have to stay healthy and stay focused.”
Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes hit his 14th home run of the season for the A’s, who won their third consecutive game and moved a season-high 17 games over .500. At 45-28, Oakland owns the best record in the major leagues.
Boston (34-39) saw its three-game winning streak end. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer and a double for the Red Sox, who have scored only seven runs in their past four games.
“We faced a tough pitcher,” Pedroia said. “To be honest with you, I think our at-bats weren’t that bad. We had some guys hit some balls at people. We got to find a way to have a big inning and get some momentum.”
Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy (1-5) lost his fifth consecutive decision, allowing four runs, three earned, and five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three. Peavy hasn’t won since April 25 at Toronto.
“I was shaky to start with,” Peavy said. “I just physically didn’t feel very good to start. … The Cespedes home run, the ball leaked back just a bit.”
The Red Sox cut Oakland’s lead to 3-2 on Pedroia’s two-run shot off Kazmir in the sixth. The home run was Pedroia’s fourth of the season and first since June 7 off Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer.
Oakland added a run in the seventh when catcher John Jaso ripped an RBI single off reliever Chris Capuano, driving in pinch runner Eric Sogard from second.
In the ninth, Pedroia hit a one out double off reliever Dan Otero. With two outs, catcher A.J. Pierzynski lined a drive to deep center, but Coco Crisp caught it at the wall. Otero recorded the first save of his major league career.
Kazmir threw a season-high 111 pitches, 75 for strikes.
“I had heard last year maybe this is a 100-pitch guy top, six innings maybe,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been anything but. And a bulldog, too. When I talk to him between innings, he wants to go back out. Really, I can’t say enough about what he’s done, not only his performance, but he’s been a clubhouse leader. He’s a veteran presence for so many of the younger pitchers. He’s been absolutely terrific.”
The A’s took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, scoring an unearned run off Peavy. Third baseman Josh Donaldson lined a leadoff single off the left field fence, a ball that came within a foot of going over. He moved to second when Peavy walked former Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie.
Catcher Derek Norris hit a hard ground ball to Peavy. Instead of throwing to second to start what looked to be a sure double play, Peavy threw to third for the force. Third baseman Xander Bogaerts made a running catch for the force but made an off-balance throw to first that landed short and wide right for an error.
Both runners advanced, and Lowrie scored on right fielder Stephen Vogt’s groundout to second.
The A’s increased their lead to 2-0 in the third when left fielder Cespedes crushed a Peavy fastball over the left-center-field fence with two outs for his 14th home run of the season.
The A’s made it 3-0 in the fourth as Lowrie lined a one-out double to left-center and scored on Vogt’s bloop single with two outs.
NOTES: LHP Brad Mills will make his first start for Oakland on Friday night against Boston. The A’s acquired Mills on Tuesday from the Milwaukee Brewers in a minor league trade for cash. Mills replaces LHP Drew Pomeranz in the rotation. Pomeranz broke his right hand Monday punching a chair in frustration after a rough start, and he went on the disabled list Tuesday. A’s RHP Jesse Chavez will start Saturday instead of Friday. … LHP Felix Doubront will come off the disabled list Friday to start for Boston. He was out for a month with a strained left shoulder. Doubront will fill in for RHP Brandon Workman, who is serving a six-game suspension. … Boston RHP Clay Buchholz (hyperextended left knee) threw six scoreless innings Thursday afternoon in his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Buchholz’s next start likely will be in the major leagues. … Red Sox DH David Ortiz was out of the starting lineup Thursday, but he will start Friday, Farrell said.