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A's get to Fister early; Sox's East lead cut to 3

MLB.com

BOSTON -- This time, Doug Fister couldn't stop the bleeding in the first inning. And this time, the righty's struggles carried later into the outing.

The result for the Red Sox was a 7-3 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday night at Fenway Park that reduced Boston's lead over the Yankees to three games in the American League East with 17 games left.

Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- This time, Doug Fister couldn't stop the bleeding in the first inning. And this time, the righty's struggles carried later into the outing.

The result for the Red Sox was a 7-3 loss to the Athletics on Wednesday night at Fenway Park that reduced Boston's lead over the Yankees to three games in the American League East with 17 games left.

Full Game Coverage

"Just one of those games where we didn't hit with guys in scoring position," said Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. "But we'll just go get them [Thursday]."

The Athletics scored four runs in the first and two more in the third to take control early. Former Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie was a catalyst in this one, going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, two runs and two RBIs. Jharel Cotton rode the generous run support to a win. The righty (8-10, 5.81 ERA) gave up three runs over five innings.

Video: OAK@BOS: A's open the scoring on Lowrie's RBI triple

"Persevered some through the game and gets through five innings," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You look at the box score, and it doesn't tell you how he battled and had to make some big pitches over the course of the game."

Fister entered this one on a nice roll since replacing David Price in the starting rotation on July 31, but his momentum was stalled as he was touched up for six hits and six runs over four innings.

"They've got a dangerous lineup, and when I don't do what I'm supposed to do, they put balls where we aren't and put runs on the board," said Fister. "Gotta give them credit. They did it tonight."

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Boston got three hits from Dustin Pedroia and a solo home run from Jackie Bradley Jr.

Video: OAK@BOS: Bradley Jr. hits a solo shot to right-center

"We start to chip away, start to climb back in it, but they were still able to tack on and keep the spread here tonight," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Olson's HR stretches early lead: In the four starts that preceded this one, Fister gave up either one or two runs in the first inning, and then nothing for the rest of the way. But this time the first inning was a serious problem instead of a minor one. When Matt Olson smashed a two-run homer, the Red Sox were down, 4-0, before even taking an at-bat.

Video: OAK@BOS: Olson smacks a two-run homer to right field

"I felt good. But just kind of battling myself, getting a little sideways and getting around the ball," said Fister. "I wasn't getting quite the sink that I was normally getting and had to make a few adjustments there after that first inning. It's just a constant battle."

Key DP gets A's out of third: Though they were down, 6-2, the Red Sox appeared primed to get right back into the game with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning. But Cotton made arguably the biggest pitch of the game for Oakland with a 2-2 changeup, inducing Mitch Moreland to hit into a 3-2 double play that was perfectly executed by first baseman Olson.

"He is an absolutely terrific defender," Melvin said.

"Any time a guy is in a little bit of a pickle, especially bases loaded, it's big," Olson said. "I take a lot of pride in my defense and being able to help the pitcher out, for sure. He just kind of took me towards the bag so I improvised a little bit, so I stepped on the bag and went home since I had the momentum going that way."

Video: OAK@BOS: A's turn clutch double play to escape a jam

FANS EJECTED AFTER HANGING BANNER
In the top of the fourth inning, four fans unfurled a banner over the Green Monster. It was quickly removed by security, and the fans were ejected from the ballpark.

The Red Sox issued the following statement: "During the fourth inning of tonight's game, four fans unfurled a banner over the left field wall in violation of the club's policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark. The individuals involved were escorted out of Fenway Park."

One of the four individuals told a member of the Red Sox's security team that the sign was meant to have an anti-racist message.

"Yeah, I saw it was draped over the Monster obviously, and from the dugout, you see someone expressing their opinion and it looked like it was withdrawn relatively quickly," said Farrell.

QUOTABLE
"It means a lot to me, because that's where I grew up, that's where home is, and there are a lot of people back there that need help." -- Cotton, who had a "VI/BVI Strong" inscription on his cap, in support of the hurricane-damaged U.S. and British Virgin Islands where he grew up

Video: OAK@BOS: Cotton tries to raise $20K for Irma relief

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pedroia is healthy again and starting to heat up. He has reached base in 10 of his last 12 plate appearances, scoring seven runs in the past four games.

Video: OAK@BOS: Betts plates Pedroia on ground out to third

WHAT'S NEXT
A's: The A's will send rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett to the mound for Thursday's 10:35 a.m. PT rubber game against the Red Sox. Gossett enjoyed a six-inning start against the Astros on Saturday, holding them to one run.

Red Sox: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz faces the team he pitched for in 2014-15 in a 1:35 p.m. ET finale of this three-game series at Fenway Park. Pomeranz was sharp in his last start, a win over the Rays, when he gave up two runs over six innings and struck out seven.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jharel Cotton, Doug Fister, Jed Lowrie, Matt Olson