Athletics-Red Sox Preview

Clay Buchholz went undefeated in May, and the odds seem
favorable he’ll continue that streak into June given the Oakland
Athletics’ offensive woes.

Buchholz tries to help the Boston Red Sox avoid a fifth
consecutive loss in the opener of a three-game series against the
Athletics on Friday night.

After a shaky April, Buchholz (4-3, 3.41 ERA) is coming off an
outstanding May during which he went 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in six
outings. The right-hander didn’t earn a decision in the last three
despite holding batters to a .194 average.

He allowed three runs in six innings of a 4-3 win at Detroit on
Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Boston (30-26) hasn’t won since that game, dropping Sunday’s
nightcap 3-0 before giving up 24 runs in a three-game sweep to the
Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.

“We’re fine. We had that day-nighter in Detroit and got home
around 5 in the morning and everybody has been kind of dragging,”
Dustin Pedroia said after Wednesday’s 7-4 loss.

Boston, which had won 13 of 15 before the losing streak, hasn’t
dropped four straight home games this season and hasn’t lost five
in a row overall since its 0-6 start.

Buchholz had been 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA against the A’s before
beating them April 20, yielding one run in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3
win.

That was part of a two-game split between the teams, but Oakland
enters the rematch struggling to score.

The A’s (27-30) suffered a three-game sweep to the New York
Yankees this week as they were held to five runs, including a 4-2
defeat Wednesday.

Oakland, which has averaged 2.8 runs while losing 10 of 15,
ranks near the bottom of the majors in batting average (.240), runs
scored (202) and home runs (32).

“We haven’t helped (our pitchers) as much as we should have so
far this year, but hopefully we can start coming around and putting
some consistent games together,” said left fielder Josh Willingham,
hitting .189 in his last 12 road games.

The offense doesn’t figure to get much of a reprieve during a
10-game road trip that goes through Boston, Baltimore and Chicago.
The Athletics are averaging 3.1 runs and hitting .228 away from
home.

Oakland has lost 12 of 16 in Boston.

One of its struggling hitters has enjoyed Fenway Park. Hideki
Matsui has batted .326 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in his last 37
games there, though he enters this series in a 3-for-25 slump and
batting .222 for the season.

Josh Outman (1-0, 2.08) just joined the Oakland rotation but
already has seen what little offense the team’s staff often
gets.

Outman pitched well in his first two starts following Tommy John
surgery, which kept him sidelined last year. After holding the Los
Angeles Angels to one run in seven innings May 23, he beat
Baltimore on Saturday by allowing two runs in six innings of a 4-2
win.

The win was his first since June 8, 2009, against Minnesota. The
left-hander has never faced the Red Sox.

“With the pitching that we have, we’re a tough team to beat when
the offense is there,” manager Bob Geren said.