By MICHAEL WAGAMAN Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Nick Pivetta pitched two-hit ball over seven innings to win his fifth consecutive start and the Boston Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 8-0 on Saturday.
One day after Nathan Eovaldi pitched six scoreless innings in Boston’s series opening win, Pivetta went one better than his teammate and extended a streak of strong starts over the past month by the right-hander.
“It wasn’t as easy as it looked. It was 100 pitches and he had to grind, especially the last inning,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We had a feeling that he was going to have a good one. It’s a very comfortable place to pitch. He was able to attack.”
Alex Verdugo had three hits and two RBIs as Boston won its third straight. Trevor Story doubled twice and made a tremendous defensive play. Xander Bogaerts added an infield single and became the career leader in games started by a Red Sox shortstop.
Pivetta (5-4) was crisp with seven strikeouts and two walks. He allowed one runner past second base and pitched out of that jam by getting Seth Brown to line out and Chad Pinder to fly out.
Since losing at Baltimore on May 1, Pivetta has given up six earned runs in 41 innings — an ERA of 1.32.
That’s in line with the rest of the Red Sox staff. Over the last four games, Boston starters have not allowed an earned run — a stretch of 24 2/3 innings.
“I’m just going out there having fun, repeating what I’ve been doing. I’m not trying to over-analyze it,” Pivetta said. “I’m just trying to go out and compete, have fun and win baseball games. That’s all I really want to do.”
Tanner Houck and Hirokazu Sawamura retired three batters each to complete the four-hitter.
Elvis Andrus and Ramón Laureano each doubled for the A’s. Oakland has lost five straight.
The Red Sox led 3-0 on Rafael Devers’ two-run single off Paul Blackburn in the third, which gave Pivetta a chance to relax.
“That’s extremely encouraging and allows me to just ease into it and let me do what I do,” Pivetta said.
After Verdugo doubled in Bogaerts in the fourth, Franchy Cordero had a two-run single as part of Boston’s four-run eighth.
Blackburn (5-2) lost his second consecutive start and allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings, raising his ERA from 2.15 to 2.62.
Story made a high, leaping catch to take away a hit from Brown in the fourth. A two-time All-Star at shortstop, Story has been playing at second base in Boston after signing a $140 million, six-year contract with the Red Sox in the offseason.
“He’s a game-changer,” Cora said. “It’s a new position but little by little he’s more and more comfortable. He’s fun to watch.”
Three innings earlier, Boston third baseman Rafael Devers made a diving stop on a sharp grounder by A’s leadoff batter Tony Kemp.
In the eighth, third baseman Bobby Dalbec made a throwing error over the head of first baseman Cordero. Cordero chased the ball down and threw to catcher Christian Vazquez, whose relay to shortstop Christian Arroyo covering third caught Tony Kemp trying to scramble back to the bag for a 3-2-6 putout.
A’S HONOR ’72 CHAMPS
Members of the A’s 1972 World Series championship team were honored during a pre-game ceremony. Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers and World Series MVP Gene Tennace were among those in attendance.
Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale threw a 25-pitch bullpen and is likely to face hitters next week. … An MRI revealed some fluid build-up in the right shoulder of Matt Barnes but “nothing out of the ordinary,” according to Cora.
Athletics RHP Frankie Montas (2-5, 3.20 ERA) is winless over his previous eight starts despite holding opponents to a .211 average during that stretch. Red Sox LHP Rich Hill (1-3, 4.85) has allowed 12 earned runs over his past 11 innings.
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