OAKLAND, Calif. -- Matt Watson was taken aback by the frustration he found in the tense Oakland clubhouse two days ago, when the fun-loving Athletics' losing streak was stretching into its second week.
So their new outfielder provided some relief with a key hit against the Boston Red Sox -- and some of that same frustration is now building with the World Series champions.
Watson hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning, and Oakland snapped its eight-game skid with a 6-4 victory Monday night.
Watson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday to put some pop in the majors' worst offense, and he came through with a bases-loaded hit off Mike Timlin. When closer Octavio Dotel managed to avoid giving up his third ninth-inning homer to the Red Sox in seven days, the A's finally had the breaks they needed.
"Everybody has been pressing here, trying to get the big hit," Watson said. "I was just hoping to be able to help the team out any way I could. You always press a little bit to get the first one, and show the guys what you can do."
Eric Chavez snapped a 5-for-37 skid with three hits, and Mark Kotsay had a three-run triple in the fifth for the A's, who finally ended their longest losing streak since July 21-29, 1998, when they lost nine in a row. All eight of Oakland's losses came against AL East powers Boston and New York, including the Yankees' three-game sweep during the weekend.
"It's been a prolonged down, but it's still early, and there's a lot of great ballplayers in here," said Kirk Saarloos, who allowed just seven singles over six innings in another solid start for the A's.
Chavez and Erubiel Durazo led off the eighth with singles off Mike Myers (1-1), who left the game after Durazo's broken-bat hit struck him on the arm. Timlin walked Scott Hatteberg to load the bases with one out, and Watson's grounder was just out of Mark Bellhorn's reach at second base.
Despite seven strong innings from Bronson Arroyo, the Red Sox lost for the third time in four games on this West Coast road swing, stranding 13 runners and making far too many mistakes in pitch selection, defensive positioning and other little things.
"If we were hitting with runners in scoring position, we would be five, six games ahead of the (first-place) Orioles right now," said Johnny Damon, who went 0-for-3 and struck out twice with runners in scoring position. "We just haven't been hitting lately. We haven't really hit our stride yet. We're going to be beating up on some people real soon."
Boston swept three games from the A's at Fenway Park last week, including two featuring game-ending homers off Dotel. He was in trouble again at the Coliseum, making an error while covering first base and allowing two runners to reach scoring position, but Dotel induced Bill Mueller to fly out for his seventh save in 11 chances.
Bellhorn had an early two-run single for the Red Sox, and David Ortiz tied it at 4-all with a two-run double in the seventh off A's reliever Keiichi Yabu (3-0), who wasted a two-run lead in just 10 pitches.
Yabu, who was expected to be Oakland's starter on Wednesday, allowed four hits and three walks in two innings, yet still picked up the win. Seth Etherton will get Wednesday's start instead, manager Ken Macha said.
Arroyo yielded six hits and faced little trouble from the weak-hitting A's -- except when they batted around in the fifth. Arroyo, who has won his last nine decisions, still remained unbeaten in his last 17 starts, extending the majors' longest active streak.
"I think he's human, (but) he's been so good," manager Terry Francona said. "We got ourselves into situations where we couldn't get one hit to give ourselves that big inning, or even the lead."
The A's loaded the bases with two hits and a hit batter in the fifth, and Kotsay drove everyone home with a sharp drive off the wall in right field. He later scored on Jason Kendall's groundout.
Saarloos, who threw a career-high 110 pitches, gave up three consecutive singles leading off the fourth, but escaped with two strikeouts and a fly ball by Edgar Renteria.
- A's OF Bobby Kielty has no broken ribs, but he probably will miss a few days while resting his sore ribcage. Kielty, who's hitting .333 over his last 19 games, aggravated the injury Sunday.
- Manny Ramirez, who hit his 400th homer Sunday, singled off the base of the center-field wall in the third inning.
- The Coliseum was filled with just 30,281 fans -- well more than half wearing red and rooting for the Red Sox.