Red Sox drop tight finale to A's in 10 innings

Club unable to capitalize on chances, as record remains below .500

Red Sox drop tight finale to A's in 10 innings

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. took Sunday's 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Athletics on Sunday afternoon to heart. He knew if he had executed either of his two bunt opportunities late in the game, the outcome might have been different.

"It's tough," said Bradley. "We obviously want to win. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that we had presented. I feel like I'm one of the main ones who didn't take advantage of it."

During their disjointed 15-17 start, this is the way it has often gone for manager John Farrell's team during losses. One little thing here or there winds up being the difference in the game.

In the seventh inning with the game tied at 2, Bradley came up with runners on second and third and one out, and tried to push home a run on a safety squeeze.

But A's reliever Fernando Abad had an easy play on the ball and threw Bradley out while holding the runners.

"I just didn't get it where I wanted," Bradley said.

And where was he trying to get it?

"A little away from the pitcher. Anywhere but the pitcher," Bradley said.

Dustin Pedroia followed with a groundout, ending a promising inning that started with A.J. Pierzynski hitting his first career homer at Fenway Park in 172 plate appearances to knot things up.

Pierzynski's clutch hit came against A's righty Sonny Gray, who engaged in a strong pitchers' duel with John Lackey.

"It's nice to finally get one," said Pierzynski. "I've played in a lot of games here. Obviously, it was bittersweet, the fact we lost the game. It would've been nice to get the win. But their pitcher was really good. For as young as he is, to come in here and pitch the way he did, he's pretty darn good."

Other than Pierzysnki's big swing, the Red Sox didn't do much against Gray.

"You see what Sonny does," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He gets ugly swings. It's almost a shock when he gives up a home run like that. He certainly did his job today."

Yoenis Cespedes drove in the winning run in the 10th inning on an infield tapper that Will Middlebrooks barehanded and made a strong throw to first on, but it was just late.

Jed Lowrie started the winning rally with a two-out double off the wall in center against Chris Capuano. After an intentional walk to Josh Donaldson, Alberto Callaspo drew a walk to load the bases.

In came Burke Badenhop, who did his job. But Cespedes simply hit the ball too softly for the Red Sox to get the out.

"You can't play in on him there," said Middlebrooks. "You need to be able to cover as much ground as you can. Unfortunately, he hit it where we weren't."

Yet, there the Red Sox were, with another tantalizing chance to tie or win the game in the 10th.

Middlebrooks opened with a single up the middle, and was able to get to second on a gift of an error by center fielder Coco Crisp.

Bradley had another chance to bunt a runner up, but fouled his attempt. He squared again on the second pitch, but took it for a strike.

"I'm in the nine hole. I've got to be able to handle the bat," said Bradley, who went 0-for-4 and hit into a 1-2-3 double play in the fifth.

Bradley then hit a grounder to first, and Middlebrooks tried to get to third. But Daric Barton made the play of the game, firing a strike across the diamond to take the tying run out of scoring position.

"I'm trying to make a hustle play, trying to advance on that," Middlebrooks said. "I knew it was going to be tough. I was breaking [for third] off the bat. I didn't know if it was to his right or to his left or right at him. Unfortunately, it was right at him. I had to take that chance, at that point in the game, to get to third base with one out."

And when he didn't, Pedroia followed by hitting into a double play to end the game, leaving the Red Sox still with a losing record. They've been below .500 since April 5 -- and have yet to win three games in a row this season.

"It'll happen," said Middlebrooks. "Just not today. That was a good ballclub. We should be pretty happy about taking two out of three from them."

Lackey gave the Red Sox six innings, while allowing five hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out four.

"For the most part, I felt pretty good about it," said Lackey. "Only gave up a couple of runs against a pretty good team."

Making his first career start against Boston, Gray scattered six hits and two runs over six-plus innings.

"I thought Sonny threw the ball really well," Middlebrooks said. "He was all he was hyped up to be. He made good pitches. He threw four or five different pitches for strikes, for chase. He was good. He competed really well today."

The Red Sox, stifled by Gray in the early going, rallied in the fifth. Mike Carp started it with a single to right. Pierzynski reached on an infield hit. With one out, Grady Sizemore roped an RBI double to right to tie the game. Lackey gave up an RBI double by Cespedes with one out in the sixth to put Oakland back in front.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.