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A's 15, Red Sox 5

Bare knuckles

Wakefield again misses out on 200th win as A’s rout Red Sox

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 27, 2011

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The Red Sox tried to smooth out the bumps for Tim Wakefield last night, giving him an extra day of rest and setting him up to pitch against the Athletics, one of the weakest offensive teams in the American League.

After five tries at winning his 200th career game, this looked like it could be the moment.

Instead, what has become a torturous wait got worse. Wakefield had his shortest start of the season, going four innings and giving up eight runs as the Red Sox were blasted, 15-5.

Many in the crowd of 38,239 at Fenway Park arrived bearing handmade signs in support of Wakefield, the oldest player in the majors. They hoped to see history and instead got misery as the Red Sox allowed 16 hits, 10 for extra bases.

It got so bad that right fielder Darnell McDonald pitched the ninth inning. Outside of the fact that the Yankees lost, 12-5, at Baltimore and remained a game behind in the American League East, it was a lost night for the Red Sox and Wakefield.

“I’ve got to take my personal numbers and throw them out the window right now,’’ Wakefield said. “We’re trying to hold onto a one-game lead in the East. The biggest thing coming off a long road trip is to try to win the game for us as a team and not for me personally. That win will eventually happen, hopefully.’’

Wakefield (6-6) allowed eight hits, walked two, and threw a wild pitch. A passed ball on a third strike in the fourth inning made four of the runs unearned. With a doubleheader scheduled today, Wakefield was disappointed he could not go deeper into the game.

“Not a real good night,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Kind of inconsistent knuckleball night. Some he threw so well and it had a sharp break. Some were up that got hit.’’

Wakefield was down, 2-1, after three innings. Then came the fourth, when Oakland sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs.

Wakefield walked Kurt Suzuki on a fastball with one out and then gave up a two-run homer to No. 9 hitter Scott Sizemore, his rocket staying inside the foul pole in left.

Wakefield struck out Jemile Weeks for the apparent third out, but the knuckleball eluded catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The passed ball extended the inning and Oakland took full advantage.

“It just didn’t go our way,’’ Saltalamacchia said.

Coco Crisp walked on another fastball before Hideki Matsui drove a two-run double over the head of Jacoby Ellsbury in center. Josh Willingham then hit a fly ball to left that just cleared the wall for his 23d homer.

“I thought I had some pretty good movement on the ball, except for there in the fourth inning when the ball started leaving the ballpark,’’ Wakefield said.

Some in the crowd booed when Wakefield left the mound after the inning.

Wakefield has a 5.10 ERA for the season and the Red Sox are 2-4 in his last six starts. With Andrew Miller on the upswing, the Sox may have some difficult decisions to make about their rotation.

“He’s worked hard so he can do it. I think he’s OK,’’ Francona said.

Francona also has to figure out what to do with Matt Albers, who allowed four runs on four hits in the eighth inning. In a low-pressure situation, he was hit hard again.

Albers was one of the team’s most reliable relievers for the first four months, posting a 2.09 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. In 10 outings this month, he has allowed 16 runs on 18 hits and eight walks over 11 innings.

“He’s obviously made some mistakes and when he’s made the mistakes, they’ve been in the middle of the plate and I know he’s frustrated,’’ Francona said. “We’ve just got to get him back on that run again. I don’t think he’s tired.

“He’s going through a little rut like a lot of guys do. We’ve certainly come to depend on him and we’ll get there again.’’

In his first mound appearance since high school, McDonald threw his first pitch to the backstop, walked two, and gave up a wall-scraping, two-run double by Willingham.

“It’s been a few years and obviously you can see the rust on me,’’ McDonald said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks.’’

The 15 runs were the second-most the Red Sox have allowed this season - Tampa Bay having scored 16 on April 11 - and the most for Oakland since July 10, 2010. Willingham drove in four runs. David DeJesus had three RBIs.

Gio Gonzalez (11-11) allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings for the win. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had back-to-back homers in the fourth inning. Ellsbury was 2 for 5 with a double, triple, and two runs.

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

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