The Red Sox found themselves in the midst of another extra-inning contest against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night. The night before, the Sox had escaped RingCentral Coliseum with a 3-2 win behind the heroics of Kiké Hernández, who drove in the go-ahead run and cut down the game-tying run at home plate.
The Red Sox, however, were not as fortunate in their 12-inning marathon Saturday night.
After taking a 6-4 lead in the top of the 12th on RBI singles by Marwin Gonzalez and Hernández, the Sox stumbled at the finish when the A’s rallied to score three runs.
Seth Brown delivered an RBI single and Jed Lowrie belted a game-tying RBI double to left. Tony Kemp delivered the decisive blow with a walkoff sacrifice fly to center off Matt Andriese.
“If you guys want, we can go through every play,” said Sox manager Alex Cora afterward. “It was just a crazy game. That’s it. And they ended up winning.”
The setback snapped Boston’s eight-game winning streak and kept the Red Sox (52-32) in control of a 4½-game lead over the Tampa Rays in the American League East.
“When you go out there and you’re not having success, it’s a daily grind,” said Andriese, who now has a 5.70 ERA. “I’m going out there every day trying to be confident and get outs.”
The Red Sox not only squandered a 4-2 lead in the eighth, but also a yeoman’s effort by starter Garrett Richards (five innings, five hits, two runs), when the A’s rallied to tie it, 4-4, in the eighth.
Richards found himself in familiar territory to start Saturday. Leading up to his 17th start of the season, Richards had allowed 20 earned runs in his last four starts, a total of 21⅔ innings pitched. He’s been open about the adjustments he’s struggled to make in the aftermath of Major League Baseball’s crackdown on pitchers and their usage of foreign substances to improve their grip.
After he allowed five runs on three home runs in his first two innings Monday, there was similar feeling of dread when Richards walked leadoff batter Kemp and then hit Elvis Andrus.
But Richards navigated his way out of that first-inning jam to go five innings, allowing just two runs on five hits. He should have picked up first win since May 19 at Toronto but wound up with a no-decision after the A’s rallied in the eighth to tie it, 4-4.
“‘I’m figuring out some stuff along the way,” Richards said. Trying not to overthrow is kind of like the key right now. I’m just trying to put my body in the correct position to throw pitches, trying to throw a lot of strikes and get ahead of guys.”
The A’s jumped on the board in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead on Brown’s RBI triple. Yet the Red Sox capitalized on a couple of gift-wrapped runs by the error-prone A’s.
Kemp misplayed Xander Bogaerts’s groundball to second and was charged with a fielding error. Then Rafael Devers scalded a ball off A’s starter Cole Irvin toward Kemp that he couldn’t handle.
With runners on first and second, A’s catcher Sean Murphy attempted to nab Devers at first base on a back pick, but watched his throw bounce past first baseman Matt Olson, allowing Bogaerts to score the tying run all the way from second base.
The Sox took a 2-1 lead when Hunter Renfroe lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, enabling Devers to score.
J.D. Martinez, who made his 16th start of the season in left field for the Sox, hit an RBI single to left-center that allowed Boston to expand its lead to 3-1 in the fifth inning.
Richards went out to start the sixth, but gave up a single by Matt Chapman and an RBI double to Frank Schwindel, and manager Alex Cora decided Richards was done, summoning Hirokazu Sawamura from the bullpen.
After the A’s closed the gap to 3-2, Hernández gave the Sox a two-run buffer when he belted his 10th homer of the season off Irvin to straightaway center with two outs in the seventh.
The A’s rallied for a pair of runs to tie it, 4-4, on Brown’s RBI double Yacksiel Rios in the eighth, which prompted Darwinzon Hernandez to be summoned from the pen. He hardly fared any better when he allowed the A’s to tie it on a Kemp walk and an RBI single by Andrus.
Oakland seemed to falter in the 12th when Gonazlez stepped to the plate with one out and men on the corners and ripped an RBI single to left off J.B. Wendelken, scoring Devers from third with the go-ahead run.
Hernández hit a single to center that scored Christian Vázquez to make it 6-4.
Despite the bedlam that took place during this contest, the Red Sox have a chance at a series win Sunday before traveling to Southern California to face the Angels as the club crawls to the All-Star break. Heading into this game, the Sox bullpen threw 115⅓ innings and was responsible for six-plus innings Saturday
“We’re going to keep grinding and keep looking for guys to get people out,” Cora said.
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