Rapid reaction: Red Sox 5, Athletics 3

April, 20, 2011
4/20/11
6:53
PM ET


OAKLAND -- A quick look at how the Red Sox defeated the A's, 5-3, in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon:

Turn of the screw: The Red Sox had made two full rotations through the starting five and had just begun a third when rain washed out John Lackey’s start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Sox manager Terry Francona took advantage of that act of nature to reshuffle the rotation. He skipped John Lackey, pushed Daisuke Matsuzaka back a day, and lined up Lackey to face the Oakland Athletics.

So, how has that worked out? Well, before the Tito Shuffle, the rotation had a 6.83 ERA, giving up 44 earned runs in 58 innings. Then, last Friday night, Clay Buchholz gave up three runs and walked a career-high five batters in a 7-6 loss to Toronto.

Since then, the five Sox starters have combined to post a 1.15 ERA (4 ER in 31 1/3 IP), with none of the five giving up more than one run. The latest to add to that streak was Buchholz, who gave up a home run to Coco Crisp on his first pitch of the game, then held the Athletics scoreless until departing with the bases loaded with one out in the sixth.

The day before, Lackey held the Athletics to a first-inning run and, according to one scout, looked “better than I’ve seen him in the last three years.’’

Buchholz had only one clean inning, the third, as he gave up six hits and walked four, but held the Athletics hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position, enough for his first win of 2011.

Pen-tathlon: The Sox pen pitched its way in and out of trouble over the final 3 2/3 innings. Daniel Bard inherited a bases-loaded mess in the sixth and escaped with a strikeout and pop-up. Bobby Jenks gave up a run and loaded the bases in the eighth before striking out Daric Barton. Jonathan Papelbon then came to the rescue, whiffing David DeJesus to end the inning.

But Papelbon created more drama in the ninth, a single, a hit batsman and a single, bringing home another run before he left the tying runs on base on two infield pop-ups.

Road (ahem) warriors: The win was Boston’s first on the road after going 0-7, their worst-ever start on the road.

Three-peat: For the second time in three games, the Sox hit three home runs in a game. Wednesday, Kevin Youkilis, Jed Lowrie and J.D. Drew all went deep. Lowrie had a man on when he connected off A’s starter Gio Gonzalez.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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