Red Sox visit A's in battle of division leaders

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The division-leading Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics clash Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at the Coliseum.

The Red Sox are 3 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay for the AL East lead and the Athletics sit just a game in front of Texas for the top spot in the AL West.

Boston lost the opener of its recent four-game series against the Seattle Mariners and responded with three straight wins. In an 8-7 decision in 10 innings on Thursday, Daniel Nava stroked an RBI single in the top of the 10th inning and Koji Uehara took care of business by striking out a pair of batters in the bottom half for his seventh save.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, while Brock Holt and Jose Iglesias had two RBI apiece for the Red Sox, winners in 12 of 16 games. The Red Sox are 4-3 on their 10-game western road trip. Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 19 games.

"A number of big swings for us with two outs and the two out runs scored," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We continue to grind away and play it right to the last out."

Red Sox starter John Lackey tries to move above the .500 mark when he takes the mound Friday. Lackey had won three of four starts and was unbeaten in six straight appearances until running into his former LA Angels club.

Lackey pitched well in that 3-0 loss in Anaheim, allowing two runs in seven innings with nine strikeouts and one walk. Lackey has displayed control on the mound of late with five total walks in his last seven starts. He is 6-6 in 15 starts with a 2.80 earned run average, but 2-5 in nine road outings.

The veteran right-hander has dominated Oakland in his career and is 18-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 33 career starts. Lackey's 33 starts are second to his 38 against Texas.

Oakland is back home for this series with Boston and went 4-2 on a recent road trip through Kansas City and Pittsburgh.

The A's took two of three meetings with the Pirates, but failed to complete the sweep with Wednesday's 5-0 loss. Tommy Milone was dealt the loss for permitting three runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings and Pat Neshek yielded a pair of runs in relief.

Coco Crisp highlighted the Oakland offense with three hits. The A's were outhit by a 12-5 margin.

Despite the loss, the Athletics are still 10-4 in their last 14 games.

Oakland has lost Jarrod Parker's last three starts -- all no-decisions for the hurler -- following a five-game winning streak when's on the hill. Parker is still unbeaten over that lengthy stretch and gets the call Friday.

Parker is 4-0 with a 2.24 earned run average in his last eight trips to the hill and gave up three runs, two of which were earned, over 6 1/3 innings of a 4-3 loss at Kansas City last Saturday. Parker, who hasn't lost since May 22, is 6-6 in 18 starts with a 4.04 ERA.

The right-hander and former first-round draft pick has won both of his career starts against Boston with a 1.35 ERA over 13 1/3 innings in that time.

Boston won two of three matchups with Oakland in late April at Fenway Park.