Parker cools off Sox for first big league victory

Parker cools off Sox for first big league victory

Parker cools off Sox for first big league victory
BOSTON -- The conditions were cold, his opponents rather hot, but neither extreme seemed to affect Jarrod Parker in the least bit Tuesday.

Nothing was going to stop the right-hander from picking up his first Major League victory, as a composed Parker did with ease -- minus a ninth-inning meltdown from closer Grant Balfour -- in a 5-3 win against the Red Sox to help the A's snap a three-game losing streak.

A misty Fenway Park, celebrating its 100th anniversary, surely provided a memorable setting for Parker's first win.

"Yeah, I think so," he said, smiling.

Parker had yet to land the game ball, and there's a chance he won't, considering it was nestled into Jordan Norberto's locker just feet away. Norberto, called upon in the ninth with two on and just one out in a two-run game following yet another shaky outing from Balfour, collected the final two outs for the first save of his career.

Norberto planned to give the ball, used to record the last out of the game, to his youngest daughter, Jazleen, whom he deems "daddy's girl." That's if Parker doesn't get his hands on it.

"We might have to cut it in half," Parker joked.

In the meantime, Parker will wait for the night's happenings to settle in, which he said might not be until Wednesday, or "as I'm fielding phone calls later tonight."

Boston had won seven of its previous eight games, with double-digit runs coming in five of them. This time, the Red Sox didn't even near that total in the hit category against Parker, who threw his fastball without fear and his changeup with equal conviction in limiting their star-studded lineup to four hits through 6 2/3 innings in just the third big league start of his career and second of the season.

The recipe wasn't at all complicated, as Parker relied mainly on his fastball-changeup combo, while only turning to his breaking ball "five or six times." Just two baserunners reached his first time through the order, with all nine seeing first-pitch fastballs.

"I don't think you can get too hurt throwing down, and I just tried to establish that fastball early," Parker said. "We did well moving it in and out."

"He got a lot of quick outs on us," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "It seemed like he used the first-base side of the plate exclusively, fastball, slider, breaking ball. [He] just kept us from that one hit that could continue the inning."

Oakland's starting nine made plenty of noise in the meantime, chasing Boston starter Felix Doubront after he threw 94 pitches in just four innings. The lefty managed to rack up eight strikeouts, a number that didn't mean much next to the five runs he allowed.

Jemile Weeks, very much in need of a productive night in the wake of a 3-for-27 stretch, got just that from the get-go, leading off the first with a base hit en route to scoring on Yoenis Cespedes' RBI single.

"For us, a first-inning run is big," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's usually the key to that, and was tonight."

It marked the first of two hits on the night for Weeks, who touched home again in Oakland's four-run fourth.

The second baseman was responsible for two of the runs, courtesy of a line-drive single to center that plated Kila Ka'aihue and Cliff Pennington, who notched an RBI double just minutes before. Weeks found himself on second base on the throw home, and following his fifth stolen base of the season, he raced home on Doubront's wild pitch to extend Oakland's lead to five.

"If we're going to be a good team, one through nine, we're going to have to swing the bats better than we did in April," Pennington said. "It's only one game in, but it's a good start to May."

The lone damage against Parker created by Boston came in the bottom half of the frame, when the Red Sox relied on a dose of small ball to get on the board. With Dustin Pedroia on second following a leadoff single and a wild pitch, Parker induced a pair of groundouts from the threatening duo of Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz that led to a run.

Parker, who struck out four and walked two on the night, saw his night end after 98 pitches with two on and two outs in the seventh. Brian Fuentes came in and forced Mike Aviles to send a hard-hit grounder toward third baseman Brandon Inge, who knocked it down and tagged an advancing Cody Ross for the third out.

Ryan Cook pitched a scoreless eighth, extending his career-long scoreless streak to 12 innings, before Balfour entered only to notch one out and give up two runs as the Red Sox attempted a late comeback. Balfour has now surrendered six runs in his last four appearances, but Norberto snuffed out Boston's rally to ensure Parker's victory.

"Terrific," Melvin said of Parker. "Places like this, you're always going to see how young pitchers for the first time handle it, and he was good."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.