OAKLAND -- Well, the Red Sox weren't going to win 90 percent of their games forever.One day after their hot start was brought to a screeching halt by Sean Manaea's no-hitter, Boston's potent bats were again held in check by A's pitching. And after seven strong innings, David Price was
OAKLAND -- Well, the Red Sox weren't going to win 90 percent of their games forever.
One day after their hot start was brought to a screeching halt by Sean Manaea's no-hitter, Boston's potent bats were again held in check by A's pitching. And after seven strong innings, David Price was tagged for a three-run homer by Khris Davis in the eighth as the A's claimed the series with a 4-1 victory Sunday at the Coliseum.
The Red Sox lost consecutive games for the first time in 2018 and dropped their first series of the year after winning six straight to begin the season. They had started the season as the seventh team of the modern era (since 1900) to win 17 of its first 19 games.
But Boston is still 17-4 and holds a four-game lead in the AL East, with an off-day to regroup on Monday before a chance to extend its divisional lead in Toronto.
"It's still a good road trip," manager Alex Cora said. "We're, what, 4-2 [on this road trip]? So we go to Toronto, a division rival, win the series, and move on."
Price was stellar through the first seven innings, effectively attacking both sides of the plate, and was on track for his third quality start in five appearances in 2018. Although he yielded a first-inning run on Davis' RBI single, he only allowed one baserunner to reach second base from the second to the seventh innings.
"He threw the ball great," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "He battled for us the whole time and kept us within distance. We just didn't get him any runs. It's tough to see him work like that and not be able to give him a little support."
It all unraveled on one pitch in the eighth.
After allowing one-out singles to Marcus Semien and Stephen Piscotty, Price used his cutter to strike out the red-hot Jed Lowrie for the second out. Despite Price having thrown a season-high 95 pitches and a righty ready in the bullpen, Cora elected to leave Price in to face Davis.
Price wanted to throw a first-pitch cutter inside, but it caught too much of the plate, and Davis sent it into the left-field bleachers. It was only the second homer of the season allowed by Price and snapped a streak of nine consecutive games in which Sox pitching had allowed three or fewer runs.
"It was good until the last hitter I faced," Price said. "I made pitches all day long, and one pitch cost me, and it cost our team. So that [stinks]."
Meanwhile, Boston's lineup had no answers for Oakland starter Daniel Mengden, who allowed a pair of singles in the first, but settled down, retiring 16 of the next 17 Red Sox hitters.
Mengden followed a similar game plan to that of Manaea on Saturday, getting ahead in the count before expanding the zone with offspeed pitches. Regardless, Cora felt that his offense, even with Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Eduardo Nunez getting days off, put together good at-bats and hit the ball hard. The timely hits just didn't come.
And that will happen over the course of a 162-game season.
"Offensively, we feel very capable of scoring runs every night," Cora said. "We think we're a great offensive club. But this is going to happen. They're not going to score seven, eight runs a night. But with the pitching staff that we have, they always will give us a chance to win a game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sox strand two: The Red Sox finally got to Mengden in the seventh, when back-to-back singles from Moreland and Rafael Devers gave Boston two baserunners with nobody out. After Blake Swihart's swinging bunt led to a forceout at third, Brock Holt came through with an RBI double down the right-field line to tie the game at 1, ending Mengden's outing.
But reliever Yusmeiro Petit induced a foul popup by Christian Vazquez and struck out Tzu-Wei Lin with three straight fastballs to strand Sox runners on second and third, preserving the tie for Davis' late heroics.
"No outs, runner on first and second, and I hit a swinging bunt," Swihart said. "We had a couple of opportunities. Brock came through and got us a run, and the more and more we play, the more and more opportunities we're going to come through on."
HE SAID IT
"[Price] gets Jed out, we had [Carson Smith] ready, but I felt with the conviction with which he pitched and the way he dominated Jed -- right now, Jed is probably the best hitter in the league -- so I decided to leave him there. A cutter over the plate, and Davis put a good swing on it." -- Cora, on his decision to let Price face Davis in the eighth
The Sox are off on Monday before they head to Toronto for three games to wrap up a nine-game road trip. Resurgent right-hander Rick Porcello will seek his MLB-leading fifth win against a powerful Blue Jays lineup that is second in the American League in scoring. Toronto lefty J.A. Happ will oppose Porcello at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Do-Hyoung Park is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.