BOSTON – After closing the best April of his career with a pair of home runs, Boston slugger David Ortiz and the rest of the Red Sox went almost as cold as the frigid temperatures at Fenway Park.
Felix Doubront labored through a 30-pitch first inning and had trouble getting ahead of Oakland batters, allowing five runs over four innings in a 5-3 loss to the Athletics on Tuesday night.
Doubront (1-1) surrendered six hits, walked two and struck out a career-high eight batters, half of them fanning on his changeup, but the left-hander couldn't locate his two-seam fastball in the cold. The temperature at gametime was 46 and dropping.
"It's a little different Felix," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "He never really had his two-seamer tonight, it seemed to me. He's been the master of the one-ball, two-strike count and tonight he was behind virtually ever hitter.
"Today the strike zone was a little elusive."
Doubront threw 58 of his 94 pitches for strikes — the fourth straight start he has thrown at least that many pitches without making it deeper than six innings — and he traced the lack of two-seamer control to a faulty grip stemming from the cold.
"I couldn't feel my grip sometimes," Doubront said. "I left a couple balls, they missed the strike zone. But just on a couple pitches I feel like my ball slipped out of my hands.
"I didn't feel a real good grip to throw the two-seamer and I missed that."
Jarrod Parker had no such trouble for Oakland.
The 23-year-old right-hander scattered four hits over 6 2-3 innings, holding Boston to just a run one night after the Red Sox racked up 11 runs on 11 hits off Oakland pitchers.
Ortiz, who was hitting .543 at home, went 0-for-4 and saw his average drop from .405 to .386.
The few times Parker got in trouble, he quickly got himself out of the threat before it could get worse as the A's evened the three-game series 1-all on a frigid night at Fenway Park.
Oakland scored the first five runs and provided plenty of security for Parker (1-0), who was making just his third start in the majors.
Parker was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento last Wednesday and got a no-decision against Chicago that night. Parker struck out four, walked two and hit a batter before getting pulled in the seventh inning.
Parker said he just followed catcher Kurt Suzuki's lead and didn't try anything fancy.
"I don't think we threw more than five or six breaking balls. Just going at guys moving the ball in and out was effective tonight," Parker said.
The Red Sox had just four hits until Cody Ross led off the ninth with a double to left off of Grant Balfour. Marlon Byrd singled with one out, Punto walked to load the bases for Mike Aviles, who lined a single to center and cut Oakland's lead to 5-3.
"We're down 5-1. It's very easy to fold, get three quick outs and take it to the house," Aviles said. "It's cold weather, nasty weather, but I think it just shows a lot about the team. We came back and we tried to give it a little fight."
Jordan Norberto came in for Oakland and got his first save in the majors, striking out Lars Anderson and getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out to second.
Pedroia was the only player to score on Parker. He led off the fourth with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home on back-to-back fielder's choices to cut Oakland's lead to 5-1.
Parker started to struggle in the seventh when Ross led off with a double down the left field line and Punto drew a two-out walk. Parker was pulled for reliever Brian Fuentes, who got out of the jam on a nice defensive play by third baseman Brandon Inge, picked up by Oakland on Monday. Mike Aviles hit a sharp grounder, which Inge lunged to get then scrambled to his feet in time to dive in front of the bag and tag out Ross.
The A's got to Doubront for four runs in the fourth. Suzuki singled with one out, Kila Ka'aihue walked and Cliff Pennington drove in Suzuki with a double. Weeks followed with a long single that scored Ka'aihue and Pennington. Weeks took second when the throw to the plate wasn't in time to catch Pennington, stole third and trotted home on a wild pitch to put the A's up 5-0.
Oakland stole third base four times.
Notes: A cold, steady rain fell throughout the day in Boston and the Fenway Park organist was playing "Let the Sun Shine" about an hour before gametime as the rain continued to fall on the tarp covering the infield. ... Because of the rain, neither team took batting practice. ... Melvin said he thought Weeks' offensive struggles may have contributed to his defensive play, including a costly error in Boston's 11-6 win Monday night. "When you're not playing and swinging the bat to your ability sometimes you go out there and that frustration just comes out there with you in the field." ... Melvin put Ka'aihue at first base so he could face the left-handed Doubront. ... Boston recalled SS Jose Iglesias and sent RHP Junichi Tazawa to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier Tuesday. ... 3B Kevin Youkilis was scratched from the lineup for the third straight game with stiffness in his back.