The Boston Red Sox figure to get a better reception this evening at Fenway Park than they did the last time they were there, as they return home to begin a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics.
Boston was booed off the field on April 21 when the team blew a nine-run lead and lost 15-9 to the New York Yankees. Following that game, which manager Bobby Valentine called rock bottom, the Red Sox won six straight games and almost pulled off a perfect seven-game road trip before falling on Sunday to the Chicago White Sox, 4-1.
Josh Beckett (2-3) was charged for three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out eight over 6 2/3 innings for Boston, which failed to move over .500 for the first time this season.
Still, the Red Sox return to Fenway tonight riding a five-game home losing streak, their longest skid since a six-game slide there from April 6-19, 2010. A visit from the Athletics, though, could cure what ails them, as Boston is 17-5 against them in the last 22 meetings in Beantown.
Hoping to continue that trend tonight will be righty Clay Buchholz, who is 2-1 with a 8.87 ERA. Buchholz beat the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday but was not sharp, as he allowed five runs and 10 hits with three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
"I executed pitches a lot better today than I have in the last three starts," Buchholz said. "It's been a struggle with location, command of each pitch. I had really good command of a couple of offspeed pitches tonight."
Buchholz has faced the A's five times and is 1-2 against them with a 7.84 ERA.
Oakland, meanwhile, endured a heartbreaking loss on Sunday in Baltimore, as it blew a two-run ninth inning lead and fell 5-2 thanks to Wilson Betemit's three-run walkoff home run.
A's starter Bartolo Colon pitched 8 1/3 innings but was lifted after giving up singles to J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in the ninth.
Colon's throwing error put runners on second and third before Grant Balfour (0-1) served up Wieters' double. After an intentional walk to Chris Davis, Betemit belted his winning homer.
"That's what good teams do," said Balfour after the loss. "They make the most of bad pitches and put good swings on it and that's what happened."A's starter Bartolo Colon pitched 8 1/3 innings but was lifted after giving up singles to J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in the ninth.
Heading to the hill for the A's tonight will be lefty Tommy Milone, who was magnificent in beating the White Sox on Tuesday. Milone scattered three hits over eight scoreless innings in that one, as he improved to 3-1, while lowering his ERA to 2.00.
Milone has never faced the Red Sox.