Athletics-Red Sox Preview

The Oakland Athletics surpassed the run total of their previous

three games combined in their most recent contest, yet it still

wasn’t enough to end their skid.

Facing AL ERA leader Josh Beckett may not be a cure for their

offensive woes.

Oakland visits the Boston Red Sox on Saturday looking to avoid a

fifth consecutive loss.

The A’s (27-31) lost their fourth straight Friday, 8-6 against

Boston, after scoring only five runs total in their last three.

Their four-run first inning staked them to an early lead, but the

Red Sox (31-26) overcame the deficit by the third inning.

”It’s good to get some runs early,” said Josh Willingham, who

doubled twice. ”But you have to give them credit, they came

back.”

Oakland ranks near the bottom of the league in batting average,

runs and home runs, which may be tough to overcome facing the Red

Sox’s ace.

Beckett (4-2, 1.80 ERA) has won his last three starts against

the A’s, striking out 21 in 19 2-3 innings with a 3.66 ERA during

that span.

However, the right-hander is coming off his first loss since

April 5 after allowing two runs through six innings Sunday in a 3-0

defeat at Detroit. It marked the most runs he’s allowed in six

starts.

Beckett will attempt to shut down the Oakland offense, something

most opposing pitchers have had success accomplishing. However,

strong pitching has kept the A’s competitive.

The staff’s 3.08 ERA is among the league leaders.

”With the pitching that we have, we’re a tough team to beat

when the offense is there,” manager Bob Geren said.

Trevor Cahill (6-3, 2.31) is the team’s ace and will oppose

Beckett, though he hasn’t been pitching as well of late.

The right-hander is 0-3 with a 3.51 ERA over his last four

starts. Prior to that stretch, Cahill was 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA in

eight starts while allowing 10 earned runs over 52 1-3 innings.

He’s allowed 10 earned runs in 25 2-3 innings since.

Cahill surrendered four runs through 6 2-3 innings of a 5-0 loss

to the New York Yankees on Monday. He and Beckett have faced each

other once before, with Beckett earning an 8-3 victory July 27,

2009.

Cahill beat the Red Sox with seven scoreless innings in his most

recent start against them Sept. 10.

Boston will try to ride the momentum from ending a four-game

losing streak, its longest since beginning the season 0-6.

Carl Crawford hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh to

complete the comeback Friday. The Red Sox had lost four of their

previous five games at Fenway Park.

Reliever Bobby Jenks earned the victory.

”The type of ball we were playing (early in the season)

compared to now is just two different teams,” Jenks said. ”Going

out of spring training, this is what we were all expecting to start

the year. It just showed up a little late but it’s here now.”

Crawford has a six-game hitting streak against the A’s dating

back to last season when he was with Tampa Bay.

Despite Oakland’s anemic offense this season, the A’s have

outscored Boston 14-13 in three meetings but have lost two of

them.

The Red Sox have won four of the last five matchups at

Fenway.