Athletics-Red Sox Preview
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Jon Lester isn't letting the lack of run support bother him, instead trying to focus more on keeping the opposition off the scoreboard.
He'll look to bounce back from a couple of shaky outings as the Boston Red Sox try to win back-to-back home games for just the second time Saturday against the Oakland Athletics.
Lester (2-4, 3.10 ERA) had a 2.17 ERA through four starts, but he's struggled over his last two. He gave up eight runs - three earned - and 11 hits while walking four in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss to the New York Yankees on April 22, then allowed four runs in seven innings of Sunday's 7-1 loss to Toronto.
The left-hander has received just 11 runs of support over 40 2-3 innings - tied for third-fewest among those with at least 35 innings pitched.
"I don't get to hit, and if I did, it would probably be worse," Lester said after facing the Blue Jays. "I thought I threw the ball well. I made a couple mistakes and they made me pay for it later in the game."
Lester is 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last four starts against the A's, though his offense didn't give him any help when he allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 loss the last time he faced them July 13.
The Red Sox (14-16) improved to 7-10 at Fenway Park with Friday's 7-1 win in the series opener. Dustin Pedroia's sixth-inning grand slam - his 100th career homer and first of the season - broke open a tight ballgame. Pedroia joined Carl Yastrzemski as the only Red Sox with 100 homers and 100 steals.
"I was pretty excited to hit a home run. It's been a while," Pedroia said. "I guess I'm getting old. But just having your name anywhere said with his is an accomplishment."
Xander Bogaerts and A.J. Pierzynski also had two hits apiece for Boston, which beat Baltimore on April 19 and 20 for its only back-to-back home wins. The Red Sox will look to provide Lester with some offense as they face A's starter Tommy Milone, who is coming off what he feels was his best outing of the season.
Milone (0-2, 4.56) gave up four runs and threw a season-high 103 pitches through 6 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss to Houston on Sunday. Oakland (18-11) has lost each of his four starts.
"I was able to command the fastball and for the most part keep off-speed pitches low," Milone said. "It definitely felt the best so far this year."
The left-hander struggled in his only start against Boston, giving up eight runs and eight hits - including two homers to David Ortiz - in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-6 loss April 30, 2012.
Milone will look to provide a better outing this time for the A's, who struggled offensively after outscoring Texas 25-4 during a three-game road sweep. John Jaso had two of Oakland's five hits and scored on a wild pitch after tripling in the third.
The A's went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position after going 12 for 30 in such situations against the Rangers.
"We hit some balls hard," manager Bob Melvin said. "We hit a lot of balls hard, actually - right at people - and then didn't get some hits when we did have some guys on base."
The A's are an AL-best 12-5 on the road and have yet to lose a road series.
Updated May 3, 2014