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Red Sox Lose Series Finale to A's in 10th, 3-2

The Red Sox were thwarted in their attempt at their first series sweep of the season as the A’s took the finale at Fenway Park Sunday afternoon, 3-2.

It took 10 innings, but the A’s got the win when they loaded the bases and Yoenis Cespedes, facing Burke Badenhop, beat out a grounder to third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Chris Capuano, who started the inning, took the loss.

Neither starter was involved in the decision. Right-hander John Lackey went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts. He lowered his ERA from 3.83 to 3.72.

A’s right-hander Sonny Gray went six innings (plus two batters in the seventh), giving up two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts and a home run.

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The A’s got to Lackey for a run in the first when he walked Josh Donaldson with two outs. After Donaldson stole second, he scored on Brandon Moss’ single to right. It was the first lead of the three-game series for the A’s.

The Sox tied the game in the fifth when Mike Carp and A.J. Pierzynski led off with consecutive singles. After Xander Bogaerts struck out, Grady Sizemore’s double to right scored Carp.

The A’s went ahead in the sixth when Donaldson led off with a walk, scoring on Yoenis Cespedes’ double to center.

But the Sox came back again in the sixth on A.J. Pierzynksi’s third home run of the season and first at Fenway as a member of the Sox.

The Sox had several chances to do some more damage, but were unable to capitalize.

In the fifth, after Sizemore’s RBI double, Gray walked Middlebrooks to load the bases for Jackie Bradley, who entered the game batting .393 with runners in scoring position, sixth in the American League. But Bradley grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to end the rally.

In the seventh, after Gray walked Bogaerts, the next batter, his outing was done. Left-hander Fernando Abad entered with Jonny Gomes pinch-hitting for Sizemore. Gomes lofted a fly to right field for what seemed to be an easy out. But the wind, which had been swirling all game, fooled Josh Reddick, who misplayed the ball into a two-base error, putting runners at second and third for Bradley.

This time the rookie bunted, after showing bunt several times, back to Abad, who looked Bogaerts back to third before throwing Bradley out. That ended Abad’s outing with right-hander Luke Gregerson entering to face Dustin Pedroia. Gregerson needed just three pitches to retire Pedroia on a groundout.

The Sox had the tying run on second base with no outs in the 10th when Will Middlebrooks singled and advanced on an error by Coco Crisp. But Middlebrooks was thrown out at third on Bradley’s infield grounder. Dustin Pedroia ended the game hitting into a double play. It was the fourth double play the Sox hit into in the game, all to end innings.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:
Lackey had another impressive outing, going six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Trailing by a run in the fifth, the Sox tied the game when Mike Carp and Pierzynski led off with consecutive singles, scoring on Grady Sizemore’s one-out double. Trailing by a run in the seventh, Pierzynski’s first career home run at Fenway tied the score again. But Badenhop and Capuano combined to allow the go-ahead run in the 10th.

THE LOWLIGHTS:
• The Sox missed a chance to sweep a series for the first time this season.
• It was their eighth chance to get back to .500 for the first time since April 4.
• The Sox went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and left seven runners on base.
• The Sox ended four innings, and the game, grounding into doubleplays.
• Bradley was responsible for leaving seven runners on base, going 0-for-4 grounding into two inning-ending double plays.
• Jonathan Herrera, pinch-running for Mike Carp in eighth, was thrown out trying to steal second base, ending the inning.
• Pierzynski attempted to bunt for a hit leading off the ninth, but was thrown out by A’s catcher Derek Norris.

THE STARS:
• Lackey had another impressive outing, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts. It is the fifth time in seven starts this season he has allowed two or fewer runs.
• Gray had a strong performance too, going six innings, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts and a home run for the A’s. He has not given up more than three runs in any of his six starts this season.
• Cespedes went 2-for-5 with two strikeouts and two RBI. He drove in the A’s go-ahead run, beating out a bases-loaded infield single with two outs in the 10th.

WHAT’S HAPPENING:
• The Sox continue to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-7 in such situations.
• Left-hander Chris Capuano had gone 15 scoreless innings this season, and 21 going back to last season, without giving up a run. He gave up the go-ahead run Sunday, taking the loss, and has now given up four runs, three earned, in the past two games.
• Burke Badenhop allowed the inherited run to score and has now allowed three of 12 inherited runners to score.

AROUND THE BASES:
• The Sox are 1-2 overall in extra-inning games this season and 0-2 at Fenway. They are 3-8 in one-run games and 4-5 in games decided in a last at-bat.
• Lackey’s outing was the Sox’ sixth consecutive quality start and their 22nd of the season overall, tying Oakland for the most in the AL.. Sox starting pitchers starters have given up three earned runs or fewer in 11 of their last 12 games since April 22, posting a 2.92 ERA in that spa, giving up 25 earned runs in 77.0 innings.
• In 18 regular season starts at Fenway since the beginning of 2013, Lackey is 9-4 with a 2.59 ERA, giving up 36 earned runs over 125 1/3 innings. He is 19-6 with a 2.90 ERA, giving up 73 earned runs in 226 2/3 innings pitched, with 165 strikeouts in 35 career starts against the A’s. He has more starts against the A’s than any other active pitcher.
• Pierzynski’s home run leading off the seventh inning was the first of his career in 168 at-bats in the regular season and postseason. He has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games, batting .371, going 13-for-35, with two doubles, two home runs, and nine RBI.
• Carp is 3-for-7, hitting, .429 with a double and a walk batting in the clean-up spot this this season.
• Sizemore went 2-for-2 with an RBI and extended his on-base streak against the A’s to 25 games, the longest active by any player against the A’s. Sizemore threw out Josh Donaldson at the plate in the second inning, he is third outfield assist. He is tied with Bradley for most outfield assists on the team.

TRAINER’S ROOM:
• Right-hander Edward Mujica felt tightness in his oblique warming in the bullpen on Saturday and is day to day.
• Middlebrooks jammed his left shoulder sliding into third in the 10th inning and will be monitored.

UP NEXT:
The Sox have an off-day Monday before hosting the Reds for two games. Left-hander Felix Doubront (1-3, 5.70 ERA) is scheduled to start, opposed by right-hander Homer Bailey (2-2, 5.50 ERA).

This will be just the second visit by the Reds to Fenway since the 1975 World Series. The Reds have not been to Fenway since 2005, when the Sox swept them, outscoring Cincinnati 23-4.

Doubront has never faced the Reds. He is 5-1 in six career starts against National League teams, with a 3.89 ERA, giving up 16 earned runs over 37 innings. He has a 1.14 WHIP in interleague games with 29 strikeouts and a 4.83 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Leaked has faced the Sox once, taking a loss in 2008 in Cincinnati. In 16 career starts against AL teams he is 5-7 with a 6.40 ERA.