OAKLAND, Calif. -- Some 800 miles down the West Coast, the Oakland Athletics cheered the Seattle Mariners for beating the Angels.
Yes, the first-place A's are scoreboard watching in late August.
Frank Thomas scored from first on a fourth-inning double by Eric Chavez that broke a scoreless tie, and Kirk Saarloos won his third straight start in Oakland's 2-1 victory over the reeling Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
"We're closing in on September," Thomas said. "When you get a lead in September, that's what it's all about. We've got to keep winning, but it's hard not to scoreboard watch."
Saarloos (7-6) matched Boston's Josh Beckett and earned his fourth consecutive win after working four innings of relief Aug. 8.
Mark Ellis added a sacrifice fly following Marco Scutaro's triple in the fifth for the surging A's, who moved 7½ games ahead of Los Angeles in the AL West after the Angels lost at Seattle. Oakland won its eighth straight at home and 14th in 18 overall. The A's haven't led the division by more than 6½ games since holding a seven-game edge on Sept. 30, 1992.
Still, Oakland has seven games left against Los Angeles -- not to mention three at Minnesota and three with the White Sox.
"I think you just get done with the day and go on to the next day," manager Ken Macha said.
The injury-depleted Red Sox lost their fifth straight game and 11th in 13 and fell 7½ games behind the first-place New York Yankees, who had their home game with Detroit postponed by rain. Boston's AL East deficit is its largest since the Red Sox were down 7½ games on Aug. 20, 2004.
In the first inning, the Red Sox announced that slugger David Ortiz had been hospitalized in Boston for the second time this month, checking into Massachusetts General for further evaluation on his heart.
Ortiz felt heart palpitations about 10 days ago and again before Monday night's game in Oakland, where he was a late scratch from the lineup. He returned to Boston for more tests, Red Sox medical director Thomas Gill said Tuesday.
"We really don't feel he's going to keel over," manager Terry Francona said. "He was tested the other night. A lot of people have these things. ... He has to know that he is fine. We're not going to jeopardize his health."
Saarloos, who began the season in the bullpen and pitched on eight days' rest this outing, was done in the seventh after allowing consecutive one-out singles to Carlos Pena and Doug Mirabelli, but Boston failed to score.
Eric Hinske had an RBI single for the Red Sox. Otherwise, they couldn't do much against Saarloos, who allowed six hits and one run, struck out three and walked two. Justin Duchscherer pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his sixth save in eight chances.
Beckett (14-9) gave up five hits and two runs, struck out four and walked three in seven innings.
"We got outplayed in every facet," Beckett said. "We got outpitched."
The right-hander beat the A's in Oakland on July 24 but has won only once in seven starts -- last Thursday against the Angels -- since becoming the majors' first 13-game winner. Yet this Red Sox lineup lacked its usual power hitters.
Ramirez has played in only one of Boston's last five games because of a sore right knee, and Pena has missed three games due to soreness in his left wrist. Ortiz was scheduled for further tests that were expected to take a few days.
"It's a big difference, but at the same time nobody felt sorry for us when we were minus Bobby (Crosby) and Rich (Harden) and minus a bunch of guys," Saarloos said. "But I would be lying if I said it didn't make a big difference."
Boston is 8-20 in August, the club's worst month since it lost 19 in April 1996. The last time the Red Sox had an August this bad was when they dropped 21 games in 1985.
|Josh Beckett (14-9) strikes out four and yields five hits during seven innings of work. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Boston Red Sox|
|Coco Crisp, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.260|
|Alex Cora, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.264|
|Mark Loretta, DH||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||.300|
|Gabe Kapler, PR-DH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.224|
|Kevin Youkilis, LF||2||1||1||0||2||0||1||.288|
|Eric Hinske, RF||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.252|
|Mike Lowell, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.288|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||3||4||.167|
|Doug Mirabelli, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.186|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.120|
|2B - Kevin Youkilis (36, Saarloos)|
|RBI - Eric Hinske (30)|
|2-OUT RBI - Eric Hinske (7)|
|CS - Eric Hinske (2, 2nd base by Saarloos/Kendall)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Outfield Assists - Kevin Youkilis 1|
|DP - Pedroia-Cora-Pena, Cora-Pedroia-Pena|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Josh Beckett (L,14-9)||7||5||2||2||3||4||0||5.11|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Beckett 104-59, Manny Delcarmen 26-18|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Beckett 7-8|
|Batters Faced - Josh Beckett 27, Manny Delcarmen 4|
|Jason Kendall, C||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.290|
|Mark Kotsay, CF||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.267|
|Milton Bradley, RF||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.266|
|Frank Thomas, DH||4||1||2||0||0||2||2||.267|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.240|
|Jay Payton, LF||3||0||2||0||0||0||1||.294|
|Nick Swisher, 1B||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.249|
|Marco Scutaro, SS||3||1||1||0||0||1||2||.246|
|Mark Ellis, 2B||2||0||0||1||0||1||2||.228|
|2B - Eric Chavez (19, Beckett)|
|3B - Marco Scutaro (3, Beckett)|
|SF - Mark Ellis (4)|
|RBI - Eric Chavez (57), Mark Ellis (40)|
|2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez (14)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Kirk Saarloos (W,7-6)||6.1||6||1||1||2||3||0||4.47|
|Kiko Calero (H,20)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.24|
|Joe Kennedy (H,8)||1.1||0||0||0||1||2||0||1.33|
|Justin Duchscherer (S,6)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||3.48|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kirk Saarloos 92-59, Kiko Calero 6-4, Joe Kennedy 25-12, Justin Duchscherer 12-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kirk Saarloos 8-7, Kiko Calero 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Kirk Saarloos 26, Kiko Calero 1, Joe Kennedy 5, Justin Duchscherer 3|
|Attendance - 30517|
|Game Time - 2:42|
|Temperature - 57|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Schrieber, First Base - Doug Eddings, Second Base - Dana DeMuth, Third Base - Jim Joyce|