Coco Crisp says it is too early to declare the Athletics the best team in baseball, even though their record says otherwise.
Oakland’s veteran center fielder has been around far too long to make that declaration, not with more than four months left to play.
Crisp drove in Kyle Blanks with a two-out single in the eighth inning and the A’s beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Friday night.
“You just have to go by the record, and as of right now we have the best record,” Crisp said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s a long season. I’m not saying that we are or are not the best team in baseball. That’s a tough question to answer.”
Oakland’s sixth win in seven games moved the AL West-division leaders a season-high 18 games over .500. The A’s have had the best record in the AL since the end of May and have won six of their last seven series.
Crisp entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and struck out against reliever Burke Badenhop. He came up in the eighth with two runners on after a bit of wildness from Boston reliever Andrew Miller.
Miller (2-5) hit Blanks and Alberto Callaspo with back-to-back pitches with one out. After Nick Punto struck out looking, Crisp lined a 2-2 pitch to right and Blanks easily scored ahead of the throw from Brock Holt.
“He’s come through so many times (that) to an extent you almost expect it,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It always feels great when he’s at the plate.”
Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 10th save. The A’s closer also extended his scoreless streak to 23 1/3 innings, the longest active mark in the AL.
Josh Donaldson hit a three-run home run, his first in two weeks.
Oakland only managed two hits off Boston starter Felix Doubront and had stranded eight runners before Crisp delivered the game-winner.
Fernando Abad (2-2) pitched one inning for the win.
The A’s have won the first two of this series after dropping two of three to the Red Sox at Fenway Park last month.
Both teams squandered multiple scoring opportunities.
The Red Sox left two on in the fourth and failed to score after loading the bases in the fifth. The A’s had two on in the third, fourth and seventh but stranded them each time.
Six of Boston’s last seven games have been decided by one run. The Red Sox are 3-3 in those games.
“One run shy again,” outfielder Jonny Gomes said. “We’re right there. We just got to find a way to capitalize and get one more run than that.”
Oakland starter Brad Mills struck out the side in the first before Boston loaded the bases with one out in the second following an error by Oakland second baseman Punto. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run single to drive in Mike Napoli and Gomes.
It could have been worse.
A’s center fielder Craig Gentry made a diving catch on Holt’s sinking liner, then threw to second to double off Stephen Drew.
Boston tied it on David Ortiz’s RBI single in the third.
Mills, acquired in a trade from Milwaukee earlier in the week, had not pitched in the majors since 2012. He walked four and struck out four before leaving after pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
Donaldson’s three-run homer off Doubront in the first was his first since June 6.
Doubront didn’t allow another hit after that but left without a decision. He struck out four and walked four over 4 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Oakland C Derek Norris left the game in the sixth after getting hit by a foul tip on his left forearm during Holt’s at-bat. … Craig Gentry reached base in the third inning after getting hit by a pitch. The play had to be reviewed by the umpires before being upheld. … RHP Clay Buchholz (hyperextended knee) rejoined the big league club after making his second rehab appearance. Manager John Farrell has not set a date for Buchholz to return to the rotation, but it seems likely he’ll start Wednesday in Seattle. … Oakland optioned RHP Evan Scribner to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Mills. … RHP Jesse Chavez (6-4), who was pushed back a day in the rotation to make room for Mills, pitches on Saturday. … Boston RHP Rubby De La Rosa (2-2) makes his first career start against the A’s.
Updated June 21, 2014