OAKLAND -- The month of September began in much the same way that most of August went for the Red Sox: with a loss. And yet, in dropping their fifth straight game, 7-1 to the Oakland A's, the Red Sox may have made progress Saturday night.
After all, they cut their runs allowed by more than half from the previous night and used just five pitchers compared to seven on Friday night.
And that tells you everything you need to know about how badly things are going.
Of course, it wasn't all sweetness and light. The Sox allowed two stolen bases in the third inning in which the baserunner, Yoenis Cespedes, didn't have to slide. Worse, TV cameras showed Dustin Pedroia and Alfredo Aceves arguing in the dugout, with manager Bobby Valentine beeing shooed away by Aceves before third base coach Jerry Royster successfully broke up the verbal altercation.
Starter Felix Doubront was blasted for five runs in just three innings. Doubront hasn't won since July 18.
Coco Crisp, the one former Sox player who didn't do damage against his former team in the Friday rout, led off with a solo homer and added two other hits. Derek Norris and Brandon Inge each had two RBI to pace the A's.
Oakland starter A.J. Griffin retired the first 14 Red Sox hitters in order before Jarrod Saltalamacchia, facing a shifted Oakland infield, bunted down the third base line for the first hit of the night.
Pedroia's line single to left in the sixth scored Pedro Ciriaco with the lone Red Sox run.