Both of them have some work to do to get there.
Blanton gave Oakland another strong outing, holding Boston to two runs over 6 1/3 innings Thursday night and the Athletics took advantage of Schilling's early troubles to beat the Red Sox 6-2 and tighten two pennant races at one time.
"If we don't play well, we're not going to get to the playoffs and we won't play deep into October," Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon said. "It's ours to lose. There's a lot of teams fighting for spots."
One of them is Oakland, which moved a half-game behind Los Angeles in the AL West pending the Angels' game against Detroit later Thursday. East-leading Boston fell 1½ games in front of the Yankees, who beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9-5; New York had not been that close since Aug. 29.
"We're still on top," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who had his major league-leading 131st RBI with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. "The problem is when you go under."
Mark Kotsay singled in two runs before Schilling (6-8) recorded his first out, and Mark Ellis had three hits and drove in a pair of runs for Oakland. Blanton (10-11) returned to his stingy ways, allowing just two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three in 6 1/3 innings.
Before giving up four runs in his last outing, Blanton had allowed two or fewer in nine consecutive starts.
"He (Schilling) threw the ball very well for a span of four innings and kept them in the game," A's manager Ken Macha said. "But our guy was pretty good."
Schilling gave up a double and two singles on his first five pitches, then gave up another run on three straight singles in the second inning before settling down. In all, he allowed four runs on 11 hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings.
It was the fewest strikeouts Schilling had in a start this year and a step back from what the Red Sox hoped was a breakout outing on Saturday, when he went a season-high eight innings to beat the Yankees. He flailed his arms in anger when manager Terry Francona came out of the dugout, though the pitcher said he was mad at himself.
"I was just frustrated with the whole situation," Schilling said. "I was more frustrated with the fact that that was a winnable game going into the seventh, and I let it get away."
Ellis slapped Schilling's first pitch of the game to center field. Jason Kendall doubled into the left-field corner on an 0-1 pitch, then Kotsay drove them in on an 0-1 single to center. Ellis drove in Nick Swisher in the second to make it 3-0.
"They were aggressive on the first pitch fastball and I know Schill is just trying to get ahead of them because they don't do that very often," Francona said. And before you can even get your feet on the ground you are pitching out of the stretch and you've got your hands full."
Damon, who had been out three games with a sore shoulder, doubled and scored on Ortiz's sacrifice fly in the sixth. Manny Ramirez hit a hard liner that was kept in play by the Green Monster and resulted in just a single.
After a wild pitch, Blanton walked Trot Nixon but then struck out Jason Varitek to end the inning. Boston put runners on second and third with one out in the seventh before Ricardo Rincon came in to give up Damon's RBI groundout.
Oakland had lost three of four and nine of 14. But on the road the A's are 32-12 since June 10.
|Curt Schilling gives up four earned runs in six-plus innings of work to take the loss. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Mark Ellis, 2B||5||1||3||2||0||0||0||.319|
|Jason Kendall, C||5||1||2||0||0||0||1||.264|
|Mark Kotsay, CF||5||1||2||2||0||0||2||.280|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||2||0||0||0||3||1||1||.270|
|Jay Payton, LF||5||0||2||1||0||1||3||.277|
|Scott Hatteberg, DH||5||0||1||0||0||0||5||.271|
|Dan Johnson, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.283|
|Nick Swisher, RF||4||2||2||0||0||1||3||.234|
|Marco Scutaro, SS||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.236|
|2B - Jason Kendall (23, Schilling), Nick Swisher (27, Myers), Marco Scutaro (18, Bradford)|
|RBI - Mark Ellis 2 (45), Mark Kotsay 2 (74), Jay Payton (60), Marco Scutaro (31)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jay Payton (22)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Joe Blanton (W,10-11)||6.1||6||2||2||2||3||0||3.57|
|Ricardo Rincon (H,16)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.72|
|Justin Duchscherer (H,10)||1.1||0||0||0||0||2||0||2.34|
|WP - Joe Blanton (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Blanton 90-55, Ricardo Rincon 4-3, Justin Duchscherer 16-11, Huston Street 20-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Blanton 8-8, Ricardo Rincon 1-0, Justin Duchscherer 1-1, Huston Street 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Joe Blanton 27, Ricardo Rincon 1, Justin Duchscherer 4, Huston Street 4|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Johnny Damon, CF||4||1||1||1||0||0||0||.320|
|Edgar Renteria, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.277|
|David Ortiz, DH||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.297|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||4||0||2||0||0||2||0||.284|
|Trot Nixon, RF||3||0||1||0||1||1||2||.280|
|Jason Varitek, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.284|
|John Olerud, 1B||3||1||0||0||1||0||0||.315|
|Bill Mueller, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.296|
|Tony Graffanino, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.307|
|2B - Johnny Damon (33, Blanton), Bill Mueller (33, Street)|
|SF - David Ortiz (8)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon (72), David Ortiz (131)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Outfield Assists - Trot Nixon 1|
|DP - Graffanino-Renteria-Olerud, Nixon-Renteria, Renteria-Olerud|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Curt Schilling (L,6-8)||6.2||11||4||4||3||3||0||6.20|
|Pitches-Strikes - Curt Schilling 115-77, Mike Myers 15-9, Chad Bradford 12-10, Jeremi Gonzalez 5-3, Manny Delcarmen 11-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Curt Schilling 11-4, Chad Bradford 1-0, Jeremi Gonzalez 1-0, Manny Delcarmen 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Curt Schilling 32, Mike Myers 3, Chad Bradford 3, Jeremi Gonzalez 1, Manny Delcarmen 3|
|Attendance - 35079|
|Game Time - 3:03|
|Temperature - 73|
|Umpires - Home - Alfonso Marquez, First Base - Rick Reed, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Ted Barrett|