Sox lose AL-high 16th one-run game

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Red Sox found yet another way to lose a one-run game Friday night, their American League-high 16th of the season.

This time they were deadlocked 3-3 with the Oakland A's entering the bottom of the eighth inning and had left-handed reliever Andrew Miller on the mound.

Over his previous 27 appearances, Miller had struck out 39 and walked just five. He entered the game averaging 14.28 strikeouts per nine innings, fourth-best among AL relievers. He had been money out of the bullpen, and he struck Brandon Moss on four pitches for the first out.

What happened next, no one saw coming, least of all Miller. He hit Kyle Blanks with an 0-2 slider in the lower right shin. Then he hit Alberto Callaspo in the same spot with a first-pitch fastball.

Miller struck out Nick Punto for the second out, but former Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp lined an RBI single to right, snapping the tie, and the A's held on for a 4-3 win, their second straight victory over Boston.

Blanks had swung and missed an inside slider for strike one.

"I was just trying to throw a breaking ball kind of to the same spot to Blanks," Miller said. "He chased the first one. I was trying to throw one a little bit lower, get him to chase again. I just went a little too far. And the second one was just a bad yank. That was not even close to where I wanted to get. Just can't afford to hit those two guys in that part of the lineup right there."

Miller said he made a mistake to Crisp, who has been battling a sore neck and didn't enter the game until the bottom of the seventh.

"Fastball away. Hindsight, wrong pitch," Miller said. "It was away, but it wasn't down enough. At the same time, 2-2 pitch, you want to go right after him. Hindsight, I should have thrown a breaking ball or thrown something in. I didn't."

Red Sox manager John Farrell seemed stunned after the game after watching the bizarre eighth inning.

"He hung on to a breaking ball to Blanks, which I thought he swung on the pitch," Farrell said. "And then the first pitch to Callaspo, he clips both runners, puts guys on first and second. He regroups, has an outstanding at-bat against Punto for the strikeout.

"And [we] wanted to keep Coco on the right side of the plate, and a lot of success by Andrew in the past against him. He gets in the middle of the count and a base hit to right field for the difference in tonight's game. I thought, overall, our bullpen did an outstanding job of coming in and making pitches when needed. We left a number of people on base, which is once again the story in this one."

Left-hander Felix Doubront came off the disabled list an made his first start since May 20, when he lasted only four innings against Toronto before leaving with a strained left shoulder. Doubront allowed three runs on two hit over 4 2/3 innings Friday, but one of those hits was a three-run home run by A's third baseman Josh Donaldson in the first inning.

"Bad pitch to Donaldson, I think middle up," Doubront said. "That's pretty much what happened in the first inning. A mistake, and he put a good swing on it.

"Overall, I felt good. I threw my curve very good today, and when I got ahead in the count, I was able to throw it two times in a row and get the hitter out. I just tried to feel my mechanics again and all my pitches. I did good work today."

The Red Sox have scored a combined 10 runs in their past five games, but they almost came up with that elusive big inning in the second inning.

Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. brought two runs in on a sharp single to center with the bases loaded and two outs. Right fielder Brock Holt then hit a line drive to right-center that looked headed for the gap, but A's center fielder Craig Gentry made a diving catch. Then he got up and threw to second to double off Stephen Drew, who had headed to third.

"That's a big play Gentry made," Holt said. "Frustrating on our part. It feels like every time we hit the ball hard with guys on, they make plays like that or we hit it right at them. That's just another instance where that happened, but big play by him. If that gets down it's a double, Drew scores, maybe Jackie scores if it gets by him. Prevented a big inning, for sure.

"Losing in general's pretty frustrating, but we've been losing one-run games. They got a big two-out hit, Coco got a big two-out hit in the eighth and we didn't get the big hit. ... It just seems that's the way it's been going."