Athletics carry momentum into Boston

( - The Oakland Athletics go after a fourth straight win on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

After losing five of seven Oakland bounced back by sweeping the Texas Rangers in a three-game set culminating on Wednesday with a resounding 12-1 triumph. The A' s racked up a season-high 17 hits in that one, which was more than enough for Jesse Chavez, who gave up just one hit and struck out eight over seven scoreless innings.

Oakland, which is an American League best 18-10 on the year, outscored the Rangers 25-4 in the series. Texas had swept the A's the previous week.

"Do you expect to put that many runs on the board? Probably not," said manager Bob Melvin. "When you're getting good at-bats across the board and making guys work, I've often used the analogy of a boxer getting body blow after body blow, to where you soften someone up, and that's what we do well. It doesn't always happen, but it did this time and against good pitching."

Hoping for that same kind of support on Friday will be righty Dan Straily, who is 1-1 on the year with a 5.14 ERA. Straily failed to register a decision for the third straight time on Saturday in Houston, as he allowed three runs and four hits in 6 1/3 frames of his team's 7-6 loss.

He had allowed a combined nine earned runs in his previous two starts spanning just 8 2/3 innings. He struck out seven in the start against the Astros and has fanned 28 batters in 28 innings.

"Every day you're going to go out there and your best pitch is going to vary as a starter," Straily said Saturday. "For me, my best pitch was definitely not my fastball. It was probably my fourth-best pitch. So I worked around that and found a way to get as many outs as I could with what I had in the tank."

Boston, meanwhile, will counter with righty Clay Buchholz, who picked up his first win his last time out. Buchholz beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, limiting them to three runs in seven innings, as he improved to 1-2 on the year to go along with a 6.66 ERA.

"Given the work I did before my last start, I was feeling really good about everything that we put into the start in Toronto," said Buchholz. "I was almost too amped up for that start at the beginning. It was a continuation of how I was throwing in the bullpen before the game. Everything was up and I wasn't finishing many pitches. I had some great defensive plays behind me to save some innings. I figured out a way to settle down after that."

Buchholz has faced the A's six times and is 2-2 with a 7.90 ERA.

Boston will be trying to regroup after a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. The Red Sox dropped the first game, 2-1, before falling in the nightcap, 6-5.

Only the Houston Astros have a worse home record than Boston's 6-10 mark.

"Yeah, it's very disappointing," Boston first baseman Mike Napoli said on Thursday. "But it was a tough day, and we're going to have to regroup, get back out here tomorrow, get our game plan and get back after it again."

Boston split six games with the A's last season.