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Athletics 5, Red Sox 0

Anderson silences Sox

Athletics lefty outduels Lackey

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By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 20, 2011

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OAKLAND, Calif. — The Red Sox received a sterling performance from their starting pitcher for the fourth game in a row last night. But their modest three-game win streak did not continue.

John Lackey was good, but Brett Anderson was outstanding as the Athletics came away with a 5-0 victory that included some moments of controversy.

Anderson (1-1) held the Sox to four hits over eight innings. The lefthander walked one and struck out eight. That more than negated a solid start by Lackey, who gave up one run over six innings but fell to 1-2.

“Thought he did tremendous,’’ said manager Terry Francona, who was ejected in the fourth inning arguing for a balk call on Anderson. “We just couldn’t score.’’

The 5-11 Red Sox have lost all seven of their road games this season and 10 straight going back to last season. They are scoreless in their last 20 innings away from Fenway Park.

Anderson rolled into the eighth inning with a one-hitter and a 1-0 lead before David Ortiz singled down the line in right. Jacoby Ellsbury replaced him as a pinch runner.

Anderson fell behind Mike Cameron, 3 and 0, but came back to strike him out as Ellsbury was thrown out stealing second. It appeared interference was called on Cameron for stepping in front of catcher Kurt Suzuki. But crew chief Tim Welke explained Ellsbury was out at second regardless.

Carl Crawford reached on an infield single and took second when Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to left. The Sox had a runner in scoring position for the first time.

But Darnell McDonald, who flied deep to center in his previous at-bat, struck out on three pitches. Anderson got him on a slider in the dirt.

Oakland added insurance in the bottom half. Cliff Pennington doubled to right off Dan Wheeler. Hideki Okajima, called up on Monday, entered the game.

Pennington stole third and scored on a one-out single by lefthanded-hitting Daric Barton through a drawn-in infield.

Okajima then let the game get out of reach, walking Josh Willingham with two outs before giving up a two-run double to Hideki Matsui. The ball was lined off the wall in right with a thud.

Suzuki followed with an RBI single off Alfredo Aceves and the A’s had the game in hand.

Lackey was pitching for the first time since April 8, having been skipped the last time through the rotation. Lackey had allowed 15 runs on 17 hits over 8 2/3 innings in his first two starts, getting rocked by the Rangers and Yankees.

A rainout last Wednesday, Lackey’s scheduled day to pitch, led to his being pushed back. The Sox picked Oakland for Lackey’s next start with good reason. He was 17-5 with a 2.90 earned run average in 31 career starts against the Athletics. That included an 8-4 record and 2.92 ERA in 16 starts at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum.

It proved to be a good decision as Lackey allowed one run on four hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out three. That dropped his ERA from 15.58 to 9.82. He threw 93 pitches, 59 of them strikes.

“I know the layoff was tough on him and he did a great job,’’ Francona said.

Lackey wanted to pitch the seventh inning, saying he still felt strong.

“I just work here,’’ he said.

The Athletics scored against him in the first inning. Coco Crisp singled to center field, stole second, and scored on groundouts by Barton and David DeJesus.

Lackey allowed a double by Mark Ellis with two outs in the second inning. A passed ball by Saltalamacchia allowed Ellis to take third but Lackey struck out Kevin Kouzmanoff to end the inning.

Oakland put two runners on with one out in the fifth inning when Ellis walked and Kouzmanoff singled to left. But Lackey got Pennington to pop to shortstop then retired Crisp on a grounder to second base

The 23-year-old Anderson is on his way to becoming one of the best starters in the American League, if he isn’t there already. The lefthander had three pitches working last night and he sliced through the Red Sox efficiently, needing only 81 pitches to get through the first seven innings.

Adrian Gonzalez had a good swing against Anderson with two outs in the first inning, driving a slider to right field and off the padded green wall. But Gonzalez stayed at first as DeJesus made a quick throw to the infield.

Anderson struck out Kevin Youkilis on three pitches to end the inning.

The Sox did not put another runner on base until the fourth inning when Dustin Pedroia drew a leadoff walk. Anderson then picked Pedroia off, a move that the Red Sox felt was a balk given where Anderson’s front foot landed on the mound.

As Pedroia shouted his displeasure while walking slowly back to the dugout, manager Terry Francona emerged from the dugout to talk to home plate umpire Jim Reynolds and was ejected for the first time this season.

The delay caused by the discussion certainly did not rattle Anderson as he finished the inning by striking out Gonzalez and Youkilis on 10 pitches.

The Sox did not get another runner on base until there was one out the seventh inning. When Gonzalez hit a ball back to the mound, Anderson stumbled on the mound and bounced the throw to first base. Barton could not come up with the ball.

Youkilis swung at the next pitch, a fastball inside, and grounded to shortstop to start a double play.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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