Frank Thomas scored from first on a fourth-inning double by Eric Chavez that broke a scoreless tie, and Kirk Saarloos won his third consecutive start in the Oakland Athletics’ 2-1 victory over the reeling Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
Saarloos (7-6) matched Boston’s Josh Beckett and earned his fourth consecutive win after working four innings of relief Aug. 8.
Mark Ellis had a sacrifice fly after Marco Scutaro’s triple in the fifth inning for the surging A’s, who increased their lead to 7 1/2 games over the second-place Angels in the American League West. Oakland won its eighth in a row at home and 14th in 18 overall. The A’s haven’t led the division by more than 6 1/2 games since holding a seven-game lead Sept. 30, 1992.
The injury-depleted Red Sox lost their fifth consecutive game and 11th in 13 and fell 7 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees. Boston’s AL East deficit is its largest since the Red Sox were down 7 1/2 games Aug. 20, 2004.
Saarloos, who began the season in the bullpen and pitched Tuesday on eight days’ rest, was done in the seventh after giving up consecutive one-out singles to Carlos Pena and Doug Mirabelli, but Boston failed to score.
Eric Hinske had a run-scoring single for the Red Sox. Otherwise, they couldn’t do much against Saarloos, who gave up six hits and one run, struck out three and walked two.
Beckett (14-9) gave up five hits and two runs, struck out four and walked three in seven innings.