Athletics on the upswing after snapping skid against Red Sox

The Oakland Athletics take aim at their second straight win and look to claim a series win versus the host Boston Red Sox in the rubber match of their three-game set on Thursday.

Oakland, which is 5-3 in its last eight games, snapped a two-game skid Wednesday with a 5-2 win over Boston. Lawrence Butler ripped a two-run double, Max Schuemann also had two hits and left-hander JP Sears pitched scoreless ball over the first five innings.

Butler has recorded multiple RBIs in consecutive games for the first time in his career.

“It builds confidence, for sure,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Those two balls he hit (on Wednesday) were missiles, and a huge momentum swing in the game.”

The A’s had lost their previous four games against the Red Sox and last four at Fenway Park.

Looking to make the streak a positive one, Oakland’s Luis Medina (2-3, 4.37 ERA) is set to make his eighth start since being reinstated from the 60-day injured list in early June.

Medina posted his second win on Saturday against another American League East foe in Baltimore, dealing five innings of one-run ball in an eventual 19-8 victory. It marked his third outing in the last four allowing just a single run, despite working through a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.

“Good thing that (catcher Shea Langeliers) and I got on the same plan together,” Medina said through interpreter Ramon Hernandez. “I was executing the pitches to get out of that inning, especially with a team like that.”

The right-hander won his only career start against the Red Sox, throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings on July 18, 2023.

The Red Sox have gone 2-2 in their last four games after a five-game win streak. Rob Refsnyder homered and Ceddanne Rafaela and Jarren Duran each had multiple hits on Wednesday.

Refsnyder’s long ball in the sixth inning snapped a personal 0-for-12 streak. Wednesday marked the fifth straight game with a homer for a Boston batter.

Overall, though, it wasn’t enough.

“We didn’t do much,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve just got to keep working. … You’ve just got to stay the course.”

Cora’s club is still 7-2 in its last nine games overall.

After allowing 11 runs (eight earned) to San Diego and the New York Yankees over his last two starts, Red Sox righty Tanner Houck (7-6, 2.68) will look to duplicate his first career start against Oakland from earlier this season.

On April 1, Houck struck out 10 Athletics across six innings of shutout, three-hit baseball.

Houck will join fellow homegrown players Rafael Devers (who will sit out to rest an ailing shoulder) and Duran at Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game, but first he must move past lasting just 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision last Friday at Yankee Stadium.

However, the overall body of work for Houck — allowing two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his 18 starts — has put him in the conversation as one of baseball’s best.

“Lot of days of hard work, a lot of hours of having great conversations with people,” Houck said. “It all boils down to having an incredible coaching staff and teammates that stand by you every day and want you to get better and push you to get better. I’m … just trying to soak it all in.”

–Field Level Media