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Boston bats sputter in 4-2 loss to A's

Boston Red Sox's Adrian Gonzalez yells and tosses his bat after striking out and leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Boston Red Sox's Adrian Gonzalez yells and tosses his bat after striking out and leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
May 2, 2012
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BOSTON—Adrian Gonzalez's two chances to rally the Red Sox late ended in disappointment.

He wasn't alone.

The Red Sox struggled throughout the night to get runners on base, then failed to deliver once they reached in a 4-2 loss to the Athletics on Tuesday night.

Gonzalez went 0-for-4, striking out with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh, then grounded out with a runner on third after the Red Sox had pulled within two runs.

"This game is all on me. I had two great opportunities and I didn't come through," Gonzalez said. "I should have come through one of those times and I just wasn't able to. I feel great physically. I'm not tired at all. I just didn't come through. It won't happen again."

As much as he wanted to shoulder the blame, Gonzalez had plenty of company. The Red Sox finished with just eight hits, leaving 11 runners on base and going 0-for-13 with runners in scorning position.

The only high point was third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who made his major league debut with a pair of hits, starting with an infield single in the fifth.

"I was like, Man, I wish I got a real hit.' The next at-bat went a little better," said Middlebrooks, who lined a double to right in the seventh.

Middlebrooks also walked in the first and finished 2-for-3, giving him a .667 average in the majors.

"The first two innings I was still in la-la land. About the third inning I realized hey, it's just like every other game. Just more people watching," he said. "I kind of was able to settle in and get comfortable."

As was Oakland's Brandon McCarthy, who held Boston to one run over 6 2-3 innings.

Seth Smith drove in a pair of runs for Oakland. The A's, who started the day with the majors' worst batting average and fewest runs in the AL, took two of three games from the Red Sox.

Boston has lost seven of its last eight in Fenway Park.

McCarthy (2-3) allowed five hits, walked three and fanned four. He improved to 8-0 with a 3.34 ERA since 2009 against AL East clubs.

Brian Fuentes gave up Dustin Pedroia's RBI double in the ninth, but got his first save.

Daniel Bard (2-3) took the loss, allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Middlebrooks was called up earlier in the day when Kevin Youkilis was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained lower back, went 2 for 3 with a double and a stolen base in his first major league game.

David Ortiz went 2 for 4 and is hitting .488 in Fenway. They combined for half of Boston's hits.

Bard breezed through the first three innings, allowing only Cliff Pennington's first-inning single and a walk in each of the next two before the A's grabbed a 1-0 lead on Smith's RBI single in the fourth.

They took advantage of left fielder Cody Ross misplaying Smith's RBI double in the sixth, scored three runs and chased Bard to open a 4-0 edge.

"A little adversity in the seventh there cost him a few runs. Other than that he pitched really well," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "He had some pitches that he thought could have been strikes. In those innings, those are pages you have to turn. I'm sure he will."

Smith lofted a fly near the corner that Ross overran, and the ball bounced on the track behind him. Kila Ka'aihue followed with a double into the right-field corner and, after Bard hit Kurt Suzuki on the left hand, Brandon Inge had an RBI double. Matt Albers got the next two batters, stranding runners on second and third.

Boston had the first two runners on in the fifth, but Marlon Byrd failed on two sacrifice attempts before popping out. McCarthy then easily retired the next two hitters -- Mike Aviles and Ryan Sweeney.

Byrd's sacrifice fly made it 4-1 in the seventh.

Boston's Adrian Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and bounced out to end the game. He went 0 for 4 and is hitless for his last 15 at-bats.

NOTES: Middlebrooks drew a four-pitch walk in his first plate appearance, then stole his first base four pitches later. He had an infield hit in his first at-bat. ... The teams wore 1936 throwback uniforms. That year, the A's -- then in Philadelphia -- sold Jimmie Foxx to the Red Sox. His daughter, Nanci Foxx Canaday, was at the game. ... Oakland 2B Jemile Weeks was out with a strained groin and manager Bob Melvin felt it would be best to rest him with an off-day on Thursday. ... Boston C Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned 27 Wednesday.

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