BOSTON (AP) - Oakland's longest winning streak against Boston since 1932 came to an abrupt end Monday night.
So did A.J. Griffin's string of strong starts.
Griffin allowed a three-run homer to Will Middlebrooks and a grand slam to Mike Napoli as the Athletics lost 9-6 to the Red Sox, snapping their eight-game run over Boston dating to last season.
The 25-year-old right-hander had been nothing short of superb through his first 18 starts in the majors, going 9-1 with a 2.90 ERA.
He was looking to join Barry Zito and Tim Hudson as the only pitchers in Oakland history with 10 wins in their first 19 career games.
The Red Sox made sure that didn't happen.
Griffin (2-1) was tagged for a career-high nine runs - seven earned - on eight hits, with a walk and three strikeouts over four-plus innings as the Oakland lost its season-high fourth straight. The A's won eight in a row in 1932, when they were in Philadelphia.
``It humbles you a little bit,' he said. ``Obviously not going to go out there and be lights out every time.
``It felt like I was making good pitches,' Griffin said. ``They were just really aggressive right off the bat.'
Oakland manager Bob Melvin thought Griffin may have been rushing a bit, and leaving balls that are usually around the knees a tad higher.
``He actually got knocked around a little bit this time, which you don't see that often,' Melvin said. ``I don't expect him to carry this into his next start.'
The Red Sox, swept by Kansas City in a split-doubleheader Sunday, scored three runs in the fourth and five in the fifth. Napoli's fourth career slam keyed the five-run fifth.
Felix Doubront (2-0) struggled with his control, but got the win on a night with wind chills in the 30s. He allowed three runs on three hits, walking five. He also threw two wild pitches and struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings.
Dustin Pedroia went 0 for 5, ending his streak of reaching base safely in each of Boston's first 18 games.
Trailing 2-1 in the fourth, the Red Sox jumped in front when the slumping Middlebrooks belted his homer. Napoli was hit by a pitch and Daniel Nava doubled down the left field line before Middlebrooks, just 4 for his last 43 since hitting three homers in Toronto on April 7, homered into the Green Monster seats.
Griffin called the 2-0 cutter to Middlebrooks ``the worst pitch' of the game.
``Just trying to get back in the count and he tagged that one pretty good,' he said.
Chris Young's sacrifice fly cut it to 4-3 in the fifth, but the Athletics left the bases loaded. Boston then broke it open with Napoli's slam.
Shane Victorino singled leading off and Pedroia reached on a fielder's choice. Second baseman Andy Parrino dropped a throw at second trying to get a force on the play. David Ortiz then walked before Napoli hit an 0-1 pitch into the first row of Monster seats into deep left-center. Jarrod Saltalamacchia added an RBI double off reliever Chris Resop, making it 9-3.
``The one Napoli hit, he went down and got it,' Griffin said. ``Just kind of got to tip your cap to him on that. Thats a good piece of hitting right there.'
The Athletics made it interesting in the eighth, scoring three runs off reliever Clayton Mortensen - two on a double by Josh Donaldson and the other on Josh Reddick's RBI double - before Junichi Tazawa escaped a two-on, one-out jam. Andrew Bailey worked the ninth for his fourth save.
``I do like the way we battled back after it looked like we had no chance,' Melvin said. ``So, therefore, we should be able to take the at_bats - certainly at the end of the game - into tomorrow, as far as confidence goes.'
Oakland had moved ahead 2-0 in the second when Doubront's first wild pitch allowed a run. Reddick followed with an RBI single.
Boston cut it to 2-1 in the bottom half on Napoli's RBI double.
NOTES: The Red Sox honored the Watertown, Mass., police officers that were in a gunfight with the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings late Thursday night. They were introduced and stood on top of Boston's dugout after the fourth inning. ... Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Oakland is 11-2 versus the AL West, but 1-6 against other teams. ... Napoli and Bailey were named the AL's co-players of the week. ... Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game that closer Joel Hanrahan, on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring, ``threw the ball well' in a 30-pitch bullpen. He's expected to have another one Wednesday. ... Boston RHP John Lackey, on the 15-day DL with a strained right biceps, began a rehab assignment by throwing 3 2-3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits with five strikeouts and two walks for Double-A Portland. ... Boston's Alfredo Aceves (1-0) is slated to face the A's Bartolo Colon (2-0) on Tuesday.
The Associated Press News Service
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