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Closing time: Brandon Workman’s near no-no not enough as Red Sox fall to A’s in extras

07.14.13 at 7:43 pm ET
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The story Sunday afternoon at O.co Coliseum — where the Red Sox capped what has been arguably the most successful unofficial first half in team history — was not solely that they lost, 3-2, in 11 innings to the Athletics, nor that they are headed into the All-Star break with a 2.5-game lead over the Rays in the AL East.

The story ‘€” for most of the afternoon, at the very least ‘€” was Brandon Workman, the 6-foot-5 rookie right-hander making his second major league appearance and first start. Workman no-hit Oakland through the first six innings, needing only 88 pitches to face the minimum 18 batters, before he ran into trouble in the seventh, his third time through the A’s order.

After Coco Crisp ruined the no-no bid with an infield single ‘€” which he beat out despite a sprawling stop from Dustin Pedroia ‘€” Josh Donaldson launched a two-run home run to left-center field, at the time knotting the game at two.

Workman finished his day allowing just those two runs on two hits and one walk in 6 1/3 innings, striking out five Oakland batters in the process ‘€” a far cry from his big league debut Wednesday. In two innings of relief in Seattle, Workman spotted the Mariners three runs on four hits.

Workman’s early dominance was evident from the very beginning. He opened the game by getting Crisp to strike out looking on a full-count, 93 mph fastball low in the zone, and he hardly let up from there. The only batter to reach through the first six innings ‘€” John Jaso on a nine-pitch walk in the fourth ‘€” was erased in a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out one batter later. After Donaldson watched a 92 mph fastball, the 10th pitch of the at-bat, go by for a called third strike, Ryan Lavarnway gunned down Jaso trying to steal second, assisted by Pedroia’s nifty scoop on the low throw.

In all, Workman ‘€” who started the season with Double-A Portland before earning a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket in early June ‘€” showed a number of the traits that the Sox have raved about since his days as an amateur. He showed an ability and willingness to throw strikes; the ability to attack opponents with good stuff (fastball, cutter, curve, change); the fact that he is not intimidated by any setting or opponent; and, ultimately, that with the first trait (frequent strikes), there comes a vulnerability to home runs.

Nonetheless, the effort against one of the top offenses in the American League was little short of dazzling, underscoring the notion that the Red Sox have some very important reinforcements at their disposal inside the organization as they prepare for the second half.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– A leadoff walk. Matt Thornton, making his Red Sox debut, gave Chris Young first base to open the bottom of the 11th. Eric Sogard bunted him to second, and three batters later Donaldson sent a bloop to right field that fell between Pedroia and Daniel Nava to score Young, giving Oakland a walk-off 3-2 win.

– As good as Workman was, A’s starter Bartolo Colon matched him inning for inning throughout the first half of the contest. Three of the first five Red Sox batters reached ‘€” two of them on doubles ‘€” but then the big right-handed All-Star settled down, retiring 13 in a row after Gomes’ double led off the second inning. Jacoby Ellsbury, Nava and Pedroia snapped the skid with back-to-back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth to put the Red Sox up, 1-0.

After Holt drove in Carp in the seventh, Colon departed having allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out four on 107 pitches (76 strikes).

– The Red Sox didn’t trail until the very end, but they didn’t lead the game for as long as they could have, either. The team was a combined 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, including an 0-for-3 mark in the second inning, and left nine runners on base.

– David Ortiz was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a walk. He wrapped up the team’s 10-game West Coast road trip with a 1-for-15 showing in the final four contests, including a 1-for-12 effort against Oakland pitching.

– Gomes was ejected in the ninth after he struck out swinging. He was not granted time out after a very late request, then he blew a fuse before home plate umpire Todd Tichener quickly booted him from the game.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Playing in his 96th of a possible 97 games, Pedroia went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. His single in the sixth put the Red Sox up, 1-0, to help the Red Sox finally break through against Colon. He also put immediate pressure on Oakland when he turned a ground ball up the middle into a double in the first inning, hustling all the way out of the box. It was all for naught, though, when David Ortiz went down looking.

Brock Holt had just one hit, a line-drive single to left in the seventh, but he made it count. Mike Carp scored on the base knock, representing Holt’s eighth RBI in nine games since getting the call-up earlier this month.

Craig Breslow, who is again the team’s second lefty with the recent acquisition of Matt Thornton, tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He allowed only one hit ‘€” a Nate Freiman bloop that fell in fair territory ‘€” and issued one free pass. It  is the first time since 2005 that the southpaw has pitched more than one inning in three straight appearances.

– With a man on first and no one out in the eighth, Seth Smith sliced a Breslow offering to left. Jonny Gomes, who is not heralded for his defense but has made a number of memorable plays in the Red Sox outfield this season, made the diving catch to help Breslow escape further trouble. Breslow went on to retire the next two to end the inning.

– Lavarnway threw out both would-be basestealers that tested him. After Jaso in the fourth, he nailed Yoenis Cespedes at third in the bottom of the 10th.

Read More: bartolo colon, Brandon Workman, Dustin Pedroia,
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