Duchscherer, perfect through five, outduels Beckett

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Justin Duchscherer was in a playful clubhouse stare down with teammate Donnie Murphy before the game when the pitcher joked about throwing a no-hitter like Boston's Jon Lester.

A few hours later, Duchscherer nearly did it.

He carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, Ryan Sweeney homered and the Oakland Athletics beat the Boston Red Sox 3-0 on Saturday night for their first series win in their past five.

"I said, 'Those guys don't want none of me today 'cuz I'm going to pull a Lester on 'em,' " Duchscherer recalled with a grin. "In the sixth inning, I was thinking, 'Did I really say that before the game?' "

Duchscherer (4-3) -- who received some of his early professional pitching training in the Red Sox farm system -- outdueled Josh Beckett and had a perfect game going into the sixth before he plunked Jason Varitek to start the inning. David Ortiz broke up the no-hit bid with a single up the middle with one out in the seventh and Duchscherer said he was "a little deflated."

Duchscherer struck out four and didn't issue a walk in eight innings, allowing just that one hit. Huston Street finished the team's second shutout of the year with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances.

Duchscherer campaigned to stay in the game, but manager Bob Geren turned to Street with Duchscherer at 101 pitches.

"You always hope to finish it out," said Duchscherer, who took a no-hitter through 8 2/3 in Double-A. "Every time you go out there and want to go 9. I fought with him a little bit. That's Bob decision. I'm not going to argue."

The 2-hour, 17-minute game was the fastest for Boston this year.

The 30-year-old Duchscherer lost his previous two outings and had all of three career starts in the big leagues coming into this season, then spent a stint on the disabled list with a strained biceps muscle.

Duchscherer's gem came one day before Lester takes the mound for his first start since pitching the majors' first no-hitter of 2008 on Monday over Kansas City. Boston was blanked for the third time.

"He commanded every pitch he threw tonight," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "His command was phenomenal. He did not throw one pitch without a purpose. He kept us off balance. Other than David's hit and his line drive and Youk's (Kevin Youkilis') line drive, we couldn't do anything."

Beckett (5-4) wasn't bad himself. The righty, trying to win consecutive starts for the second time this year, struck out nine for the second straight start to match his second-highest amount this year. He allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings and didn't walk a batter for the second time in 2008, throwing 76 strikes among his 107 pitches.

"It was unfortunate someone had to lose it," Beckett said. "We don't have many games like this period. For what this offense does on a consistent basis, no one has a right to complain about run support."

The A's snapped Boston's seven-game winning streak with an 8-3 win in the series opener Friday, then took the middle game for their third straight victory to capture a series for the first time since sweeping the Baltimore Orioles at home from May 5-7.

Duchscherer was efficient, regularly threw his curveball for strike one, had his fastball working and commanded the zone with all of his pitches.

After Varitek was hit to reach base for Boston, Coco Crisp tried to bunt for a hit but the ball rolled just foul down the first-base line before he later struck out. Duchscherer got through six innings on 78 pitches.

"He was incredible," teammate Mark Ellis said. "He can throw the ball wherever he wants to throw it."

After Beckett allowed Mike Sweeney's leadoff double in the second, Emil Brown's RBI groundout gave the A's a 1-0 lead. Ellis followed with a single and Beckett then retired the next 11 Oakland hitters before Bobby Crosby's single leading off the sixth.

Ryan Sweeney connected for his second home run leading off the seventh, giving the A's a longball in a season-best seven straight games. Mike Sweeney singled in an insurance run in the eighth.

"When you have such a potent offense in the dugout over there, it makes it all the more special to have that kind of performance against the Red Sox," Geren said.

Jack Cust struck out looking in his first three at-bats against Beckett, then was lifted for defense and Rajai Davis entered and moved to center.

Slumping Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez got the night off, a mental break of sorts. He is slated to play in Sunday's series finale. Ramirez has two hits in his past 23 at-bats and is hitting .189 (17-for-90) over his past 24 games.

"He's had a tough stretch," Francona said. "He came in here a little bit ago and said thanks. He's been working. I think this will be really good for him. I can't imagine coming to the ballpark and not wanting to put him in there. Sometimes it's in our best interest."

Game notes
The Red Sox went 0-for-18 in the first three innings Friday and Saturday. ... A's rookie 1B Daric Barton was out and nursing tonsillitis. He might not play until Tuesday, the series opener against Toronto after a day off for the club Monday. ... The Red Sox activated OF Brandon Moss from 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket. Also, Boston RHP Julian Tavarez was granted his release. ... The 2-year-old son of late A's pitcher Joe Kennedy, Kaige, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Kennedy died last November at age 28 from a heart condition.