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RED SOX 7, A'S 5

Bobble-ahead night

Oakland errors in 8th result in a giveaway win for Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. -- You don't need anything crafty to explain the Red Sox' 7-5 win over the A's last night. A series of bizarre numbers should suffice.

Take four. That's the number of hits the Sox had all night, while somehow managing seven runs. Or three. That's how many earned runs Oakland reliever Juan Cruz allowed in two innings despite not giving up a hit. Or 11. That's how many walks Oakland pitching issued, seven of them by starter Barry Zito. Or three, the number of errors Oakland made last night, including two in the eighth on consecutive balls put in play by the Sox.

Down, 5-3, with the bases loaded (hit batsman, walk, walk) and no outs in the eighth, Johnny Damon grounded to Oakland first baseman Scott Hatteberg, who botched the grounder. Damon was safe, a run scored, and the Sox were within 5-4. Huston Street relieved Cruz, and Edgar Renteria, on Street's initial offering, sent a sinking liner to right field that zipped by a charging Eric Byrnes, emptying the bases and vaulting the Sox to a 7-5 lead.

''Johnny hustled down the line," said manager Terry Francona. ''We did some good things to put ourselves in position to win. We didn't knock the cover off the ball, but we did things that help us win."

The Sox had pounced on Barry Zito early, taking a 2-0 lead before Oakland came to bat. Zito walked Damon to begin the game -- one of seven walks he issued, a career high. Renteria followed by sitting on an 87-mile-per-hour fastball and hitting it off the high wall in left-center for a double, sending Damon to third.

David Ortiz grounded to second, scoring Damon. Manny Ramirez walked, and Kevin Millar plated Renteria with a sacrifice fly to left.

''A lot of walks, a lot of good at-bats," Francona said. ''If we go out of the zone, Zito is probably out there until the seventh.

Eric Chavez, hitting .205 coming, pulled Oakland within 2-1 when he belted a Matt Clement cutter over the 388-foot sign in right-center to lead off the fourth. It was just the second homer Clement has given up all season, the first since Hideki Matsui went deep in the third inning of Clement's Red Sox debut April 5 at Yankee Stadium, a span of 50 2/3 innings.

Chavez hadn't homered in 25 games and 103 at-bats.

''You don't throw a pitch like that to Chavez and get away with it," Clement said.

The Sox got that run back in the fifth when Renteria walked to lead off the inning and Ortiz doubled to right center. Dale Sveum, who's having a rather quiet season in the third base coach's box, waved in Renteria. The play was extremely close, but Renteria slipped in just before the relay for a 3-1 lead.

That would be it for runs in the inning, despite Ortiz reaching third on the throw home with no outs. Ramirez grounded to shortstop Marco Scutaro, and Ortiz got stuck halfway between third and home. He attempted to scamper back to third but was erased on a ''6-5" fielder's choice.

Oakland wasted no time tying it, doing so in the bottom of the inning, when Clement went retro and began handing out walks. Clement struck out Scutaro to begin the inning, allowed a single to the No. 9 hitter, Byrnes, then walked Kotsay and Jason Kendall. Chavez grounded out, scoring Byrnes, and Hatteberg followed with a one-out single hammered to right. But he hit the ball so hard that it got to Jay Payton quickly.

Payton rocketed a throw home that beat Kendall to the plate. Oakland had tied it at 3-3, but Payton prevented Oakland from taking the lead.

Zito didn't come back out for the sixth, done after 115 pitches, only 58 of them strikes. He allowed only three hits, but three earned runs. Zito, since winning his Cy Young award with a 23-5 season in 2002, is 26-27.

Clement, through five innings, had walked four, one shy of his season high April 10 at Toronto. He also hit Kendall, the second batter of the game, with a cutter that cut well off the plate. For Kendall, it was nothing new. He's been hit 181 times in his career, seventh most in the history of baseball.

Clement couldn't make it out of the sixth, when he allowed two-out singles to Matt Watson and Scutaro. Mantei came on and allowed both runners to score on the singles by Byrnes (lined to center) and Kotsay (through the hole at short). Oakland thus vaulted to a 5-3 lead, and Clement was charged with all five runs. Mantei had allowed just one of five inherited runners to score before last night.

''You never want to leave the game," Clement said. ''I was frustrated with myself. You always make your own bed. I felt stronger than I have. Maybe because I did, I overthrew some and missed spots. They worked me pretty hard out there."

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