OAKLAND, Calif. — If the Red Sox had just a representative offense, Jake Peavy would be an effective starter in the back end of their rotation, a veteran able to work deep in games and take advantage of occasional bursts of run support.
But on this Red Sox team, Peavy is a pitcher who knows only frustration.
The righthander hung in there against the team with the best record in baseball on Thursday night. But it was fruitless as the Oakland Athletics beat the Sox, 4-2.
Peavy (1-5) has not won a game since April 25 and the Red Sox are 5-11 in his starts. Thursday was the 10th time Peavy came out of the game either leading, tied or behind by one run. The Red Sox have won four of those games.
“I don’t feel sorry for myself one bit,” said Peavy, who left the mound in the seventh inning down, 3-2. “I’ve got to get better and find a way to win. That’s all there is to it.”
The Sox had their modest three-game win streak snapped as Scott Kazmir (9-2) pitched seven strong innings for Oakland. Dan Otero got the final three outs for his first career save.
The Sox, who were held to five hits, have scored 11 runs in their last six games. They are 2 of their last 32 with runners in scoring position.
The end of the game was typical of the season for the Sox. With Dustin Pedroia on second base after a double, A.J. Pierzynski hammered a changeup to the wall in center.
Coco Crisp made a leaping catch at the wall to end the game. Pierzynski got to first base and fired his helmet into the ground with both hands.
“I hit that ball good,” Pierzynski said. “I thought it was off the wall anyway. We came a couple of inches short.”
As Peavy worked to keep the Red Sox in the game, they did little against Kazmir. The lefthander faced the Red Sox for the 28th time in his career, his most starts against any team. But the start was only his second against the Sox since 2010.
Kazmir pitched one game in the majors in 2011 and none in 2012 as he resorted to an independent league. He made a comeback with Cleveland last season and leveraged that into a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland.
That has so far been a bargain. Kazmir held the Red Sox to two runs on four hits over seven innings, a performance that actually raised his earned run average to 2.08. He struck out eight without a walk.
“Not too many opportunities,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Kazmir has got a heck of a year started. Halfway through, you see what he’s put up. Once again, we’re scrambling to try to create some opportunities.”
Kazmir had a two-hit shutout through five innings. The best chance the Sox had came in the third inning when Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled to center field with one out. But Kazmir got Brock Holt to ground to second before Xander Bogaerts flew out to right field.
The shutout was broken in the sixth inning. Holt singled to left field and scored when Pedroia homered to left, his fourth home run of the season. Yoenis Cespedes made a leaping try for the ball as it cleared the fence but it ticked off his glove.
Kazmir threw a season-high 111 pitches, 75 for strikes.
Peavy allowed an unearned run in the second inning but minimized the damage.
Josh Donaldson led off with a single to left field before Jed Lowrie walked. Derek Norris followed with a ball back to the mound. Peavy went to third to get the lead runner, but Bogaerts threw the ball away and both runners moved up.
Bogaerts had to make a throw from an awkward angle, moving to his right and throwing across his body and never set his feet.
Peavy regretted not going to second base.
“When I caught the ball, I was turned to second,” Peavy said. “With the positioning we were in, there wasn’t a guy right there . . . I wanted to keep that runner off third base. That was my fault.”
Stephen Vogt grounded to second base, scoring Lowrie.
Peavy got the first two outs of the third inning before leaving an 89 mile-per-hour fastball up to Cespedes. The ball landed well beyond the fence in center field.
It was the first home run for Cespedes against the Red Sox. Peavy has allowed 14 home runs, tied for second in the American League and one behind David Price of the Rays.
“Just not in synch,” Peavy said. “No excuse. Obviously I’m just stating facts. If anybody watched the game, it was clear I wasn’t on point there for a little bit.”
The Athletics scored another two-out run in the fourth inning. Lowrie doubled off the wall in left field with one out before Peavy struck out Norris. Facing Vogt, Peavy jammed him with a cutter, but the ball was hit just hard enough to float over the infield and land in shallow center for an RBI single.
Peavy retired eight straight after the single before he walked Vogt with one out in the seventh inning. That was the end of his night, and Peavy punched the air and cursed as he left the mound after a season-high 117 pitches.
Lefthander Chris Capuano, pitching for the first time since June 11, was shaky. He got the second out of the inning when Callaspo grounded into a force at second. But Crisp walked on five pitches to extend the inning.
Capuano then fell behind John Jaso before allowing a single to center field. Eric Sogard, who ran for Callaspo, scored from second. The Red Sox threw Crisp out at third to end the inning.
Peavy was charged with four runs, three earned, on five hits. He walked three and struck out four.