The Red Sox began their eight-game winning streak the night after a soul-crushing 1-0 loss to the Rays on June 24.
After stringing together eight consecutive victories from June 25 through July 2, it just so happened that the Sox’ winning ways were abrupted by yet another back-breaking defat at the hands of the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday night, though this one came in the form of a 7-6 loss in 12 innings.
Garrett Richards made his 17th start of the season for Boston to begin things on Saturday, and he stumbled out of the gate a bit by walking and beaming the first two hitters he faced before yielding a run-scoring triple to Sean Murphy an inning later.
The Red Sox offense was able to pick up Richards, however, and they did so on account of some sloppy defense from the Athletics.
Matched up against Oakland starter Cole Irvin, Xander Bogaerts proved to be the catalyst for a two-run top of the fourth by reaching base on a fielding error committed by second baseman Tony Kemp.
Bogaerts advanced up to second on a hard-hit single from Rafael Devers and was also able to score all the way from there on a throwing error on a failed pickoff move from catcher Sean Murphy.
That same miscue allowed Devers to move up to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Hunter Renfroe to give Boston their first lead of the night at 2-1.
The Sox and A’s traded blows over the next few innings, with J.D. Martinez ripping an RBI single in the fifth, and Richards serving up a pair of hits to the first two hitters he faced in the sixth, resulting in Frank Schwindel driving in Matt Chapman and Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving the right-hander the hook.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (60 strikes), Richards wound up surrendering two earned runs on five hits, three walks, and just two strikeouts over five-plus innings of work. The 33-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.88.
In relief of Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura was inserted into somewhat of a jam in the bottom of the sixth, but he escaped said jam on just 12 pitches.
From there, Kiké Hernández provided what at the time was much-needed insurance in the seventh when he clubbed a solo home run — his 10th of the season — off Irvin to put Boston ahead at 4-2.
The Athletics countered with two runs of their own in the eighth, though, as they took advantage of the fact that the Red Sox were without two of their high-leverage relievers in Garrett Whitlock and Matt Barnes.
Instead, after Josh Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh inning to extend his scoreless appearances streak to 25 straight games, Yacksel Rios got the call for the eighth, and he allowed a run to score while also put the tying run on base on a pair of hits before getting pulled in favor of Darwninzon Hernandez.
Hernandez issued a one-out walk to Kemp, which brought Elvis Andrus to the plate in a prime scoring spot, and he did just that by plating the tying run in Seth Brown on a line-drive single to right field. 4-4.
Boston threatened in their half of the ninth when the pinch-hitting Marwin Gonzalez reached base on a one-out walk off Oakland reliever Lou Trivino, but he — representing the potential go-ahead run — was gunned down at second base by Murphy on a failed stolen base attempt.
With no Barnes, Adam Ottavino was responsible for the ninth. The veteran right-hander did allow the winning run to reach base on a leadoff single from Chapman, but retired the next three A’s he faced in 1-2-3 fashion to strand that all important runner and send this one to extras.
In extras, Danny Santana represented the go-ahead run for the Sox in the 10th since he recorded the final out of ninth. Like Gonzalez, Santana had the chance to create offense with his legs, but he was instead thrown out while trying to swipe third base.
The A’s ran into an out themselves in the 10th, however, as Brandon Workman first put himself in a bases loaded jam before recording the first out of the frame on a poorly-executed bunt from Kemp.
Workman proceeded to get Andrus to line out to Martinez in left field, and the runner at third (Murphy) made a poor decision in taking off for home since he was thrown out at the plate by Martinez, who was doing his best (Kiké) Hernández impression in notching his team’s league-leading 26th outfield assist of the season.
That clutch double play sent this one to the 11th, where the Boston bats went down in order and Workman again maneuvered his way around a sticky situation by inducing two fly outs and a ground out.
Gonzalez made up for his baserunning blunder in his side’s half of the 12th, as he plated Devers from second on a then go-ahead single off A’s reliever and former Red Sox farmhand J.B. Wendelken before scoring himself on another RBI single courtesy of Hernández.
Again, the Red Sox found themselves in possession of a two-run lead at 6-4, but they were unable to hang on to said lead while simultaneously being down to their last available reliever in Matt Andriese.
Andriese failed to record a single out in the bottom half of the 12th, as the veteran righty yielded three straight hits to the likes of Murphy, Brown, and old friend Jed Lowrie to knot things up at six runs apiece.
He then got Kemp to fly out to center field, but despite Hernández’s best efforts, the ball was hit deep enough to bring in Brown from third base and give the A’s a 7-6 come-from-behind win in 12 innings.
Andriese was charged with the loss and blown save while also inflating his ERA on the year to 5.70.
With the crushing loss, the Red Sox see their eight-game winning streak come to an end and fall to 52-32 on the season, though they remain four games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Next up for the Red Sox, they will send right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound on Sunday afternoon as they go for the series win over the A’s, who will counter with fellow righty James Kaprielian.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Tony Kemp: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)