OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Gio Gonzalez’s run as the major league’s stingiest pitcher came to an end against the worst road team in the bigs.
Then the Boston Red Sox punched two more holes in the Oakland left-hander’s razor-thin ERA for good measure.
Gonzalez had nine strikeouts but gave up home runs to Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie, and the Red Sox got their first road win of the season after seven straight losses, beating the Athletics 5-3 on Wednesday.
Gonzalez (2-1) came into the game having thrown 17 straight scoreless innings and having allowed only one run in three starts for an 0.47 ERA. But he allowed an RBI single to Carl Crawford in the second, a solo homer to Youkilis in the fourth and the two-run shot by Lowrie in the sixth in a rare off performance for an Oakland starter.
“Their offense came alive a little bit,” said Gonzalez, who allowed eight hits – four fewer than he gave up in his previous three starts combined. “I was doing my best to keep them down but they kept going up there and swinging. That’s a tough team to keep down. If you make a mistake they’re going to make you pay for it and that’s exactly what they did.”
In the previous turn through the rotation, A’s starters gave up just one earned run in 33 2-3 innings for an 0.27 ERA. Gonzalez did his part during the stretch with six shutout innings against Detroit on April 14.
Gonzalez had good stuff against Boston in a game played in a steady rain but was done in by the homers from Youkilis and Lowrie as the A’s lost for just the sixth time in their past 24 home games against Boston.
“That’s some pretty good stuff,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Gonzalez. “He’s nice and free and easy, big breaking ball and enough velocity on the fastball. That’s a tough guy to beat.”
Clay Buchholz (1-2) allowed a leadoff home run to Coco Crisp and nothing else in 5 1-3 innings as the Red Sox snapped the longest season-opening road losing streak in franchise history.
Despite building a 5-1 lead, there were some tense moments late for the Red Sox. Crisp’s one-out RBI single off Bobby Jenks in the eighth inning cut Boston’s lead to three runs, but Jenks recovered by striking out Daric Barton. Jonathan Papelbon escaped the jam by striking out David DeJesus.
The A’s added another run in the ninth on Landon Powell’s RBI single before Papelbon got pinch-hitter Josh Willingham and Cliff Pennington to end the game for his third save.
“We didn’t take advantage of some situations when we had them,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “We had some of our better hits up in certain situations and didn’t necessarily come through. We had our chances, we did.”
J.D. Drew added his first homer of the season, a solo shot, in the seventh off Jerry Blevins to help the Red Sox win for the fourth time in five games after a 2-10 start.
Buchholz allowed 10 runs in five innings on the way to a pair of losses in Oakland last season and got off to a rough start in this game as well when Crisp homered to right field on Buchholz’s first pitch.
But Buchholz stranded a pair of runners in both the second and fifth innings and pitched around Mark Ellis’ one-out double in the fourth before being relieved by Daniel Bard with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning.
“(Buchholz) wasn’t that on today but he pitched smart,” said Barton, who went 0-for-4. “He got the big out when he needed it and kept us from having any big innings. We missed a lot of opportunities today with guys in scoring position.”
Bard struck out Pennington and then escaped the jam by retiring Crisp on a popup. Crisp’s out came one pitch after his line drive to left field landed just inches foul.
Buchholz allowed one run and six hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Notes: Ellis’ double in the fourth was the 200th of his career. Ellis also made Oakland’s major league-worst 20th error in the top of that inning when he dropped a ball on a potential force at second. … Lowrie was 2 for 4 and is batting .480 this season against lefties. … Crisp’s homer was just the eighth of the season for the A’s. … LHP David Purcey, acquired from Toronto earlier in the week, made his Oakland debut with two perfect innings. … This marked the 99th anniversary of the first game played at Fenway Park, a 7-6 Boston win in 11 innings over the Yankees in 1912.