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Closing time: Athletics 6, Red Sox 4

07.21.10 at 6:39 pm ET
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Jack Cust and Matt Watson each homered in spoling Clay Buchholz‘ return from the disabled list on Wednesday as the Athletics’ bats once again proved stronger than those of the visiting team in a 6-4 Red Sox loss.

Jed Lowrie filled in admirably for Marco Scutaro in his first game of the season, while Adrian Beltre supplied the Sox with the team’s only homer. Though the Sox mustered four runs off of A’s starter Gio Gonzalez, the offense was silenced for much of the lefty’s start and failed to tack on a run after the 24-year-old’s departure.

With the loss, the Red Sox have opened their 10-game road trip by dropping two of three to the Athletics. They now head to Seattle for four with the Mariners before closing out the road trip with a three-game set in Anaheim.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Buchholz was clearly off his game in his return from the disabled list. He was charged with five runs on the day (two of which he left to Scott Atchison upon departing in the fifth inning) and was unable to escape the fifth inning.

Buchholz struggled in each of his four-plus frames, facing 24 batters en route to recording just 13 outs. The cleanest he looked in the game was in the fourth inning, as the only slip-up Buchholz had was a walk to Cliff Pennington after Rajai Davis reached on a throwing error by Lowrie.

For Buchholz, it was his shortest start of the season to not be cut short by injury. He went just one inning against the Giants on June 26 before leaving with a hamstring injury suffered while running the bases.

With the loss, Buchholz fell to 10-5 on the season. Despite giving up more than a run per inning on Wednesday, his earned run average remains an impressive 2.81.

- Gonzalez didn’t have much trouble handling a struggling Red Sox offense, turning in a quality start and cruising through the second, third, and fourth innings.

After allowing an RBI single to Beltre in the first inning, Gonzalez settled down nicely, escaping the 28-pitch inning without further damage and allowing no Red Sox hitters to reach in the following three innings.

The Sox were able to tack on a run in the fifth inning, but the frame that proved to be accompanied by most the most trouble for was the sixth. After allowing a leadoff single to Kevin Youkilis, Gonzalez served up a two-run homer to Beltre. On the day Gonzalez gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out three.

-The Red Sox failed to make the most of a struggling Henry Rodriguez in the seventh inning while trailing, 6-4. The flame-throwing right-hander was routinely bordering on walking the Sox’ hitters, as he ran the count full to four of the five batters he saw.

Though Lowrie and David Ortiz were able to walk in succession, the Sox didn’t put any runners on base against Rodriguez until there were two out. Youkilis ended the inning by flying to deep right… on a full count.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

-Jed Lowrie had a promising return, though not in the field. Lowrie committed the throwing error that put Davis on base in the fourth inning. The error didn’t come back to haunt the Red Sox in the inning, and much of the rest of Lowrie’s performance was solid.

Coming off a lengthy stay on the disabled list due to mononucleosis, Lowrie began his day by drawing a walk in the first inning and scoring on a Beltre single. He worked the count full in the third inning before flying out to right.

Lowrie’s most valuable contribution came in the fifth inning, when he plated the second run of the day in the form of Bill Hall on a single to left center off Gonzalez, who had stymied the Red Sox lineup for much of the day. He walked in the seventh inning off Rodriguez with two down, sustaining the inning with the team trailing and making way for David Ortiz to also walk.

- Though he entered Wednesday hitless in four of his last five games, Hall stood out from Boston regulars on a day that didn’t require much to do so. Batting eighth, Hall broke up a string of 10 Red Sox hitters who were retired by Gonzalez by doubling to right center to lead off the fifth inning. He scored on a single from Lowrie.

- Beltre had a big game offensively for the Red Sox, accounting for three of the team’s four runs. Beltre has now hit in four straight games, three of which have been multi-hit performances. With 16 homers on the season, he has now doubled the eight he hit in 2009, his final season with the Mariners. Barring injury, 2010 should be his seventh 20-homer campaign in 13 seasons.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Clay Buchholz, Closing time,
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