OAKLAND -- Jon Lester was much better than his last start. The Red Sox offense, however, wasn't nearly as good as it has been of late.
Lester pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three runs, but the Sox' bats were stymied by starter Oakland A's starter A.J. Griffin, managing just seven hits -- only three after the fourth inning -- as the Sox were shutout, 3-0.
Coming into the game, the Sox were riding a four-game winning streak, during which they had averaged 8.5 runs per game. But they found themselves shutout for the second time on the current West Coast road trip.
Lester, who was shelled for five runs on nine hits in his previous start, was much sharper. He allowed a two-out solo homer to Derek Norris in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the Yoenis Cespedes in the sixth.
He's won just two starts since May 15.
Junichi Tazawa entered in the seventh and allowed an inherited run to score on a run-scoring single by Coco Crisp.
The Sox had at least one baserunner in each of the first six innings, but were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven in the first six innings.
Griffin and closer Grant Balfour combined to retire 10 of the last 11 Red Sox hitters.
STAR OF THE GAME: A.J. Griffin
Griffin was masterful over eight shutout innings, allowing just six hits. On the rare occasions when he got into trouble -- like the sixth, when he had runners at first and second and two out - he made big pitches to escape damage.
HONORABLE MENTION: Yoenis Cespedes
Cespedes wowed the Red Sox with an early-afternoon batting practice session, then did some damage during the game, too, reaching base three times with a walk and two singles and an RBI.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
Lester was much improved over his previous starts, but on a night when Griffin was pitching as well as he was, Lester needed to match him -- and didn't.
TURNING POINT: The last threat the Red Sox had against Griffin came in the sxith when an A's error and a single by Daniel Nava gave the Sox runners at the corners. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia flied to left.
BY THE NUMBERS: Mike Napoli has reached base in 26 straight road games, the longest such active streak in the American League.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "A loss is a loss; it doesn't matter how well you pitched when you lose. Sometimes the guy on the other side pitches better than you.'' - Jon Lester