BY JOE STIGLICH
OAKLAND, Calif. – The end result was not what he wanted, but Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman more than held his own during his first major league start Sunday.
The right-hander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum before allowing a game-tying home run that eventually led to a 3-2 loss to the Oakland A’s.
In the process, however, Workman impressed Boston manager John Farrell and showed he’s a suitable option should Boston have a need in the starting rotation moving forward.
“He gave us an outstanding effort,” Farrell said. “He didn’t show any kind of fear for the situation. He was well-poised and had very good mound presence.”
Workman’s big league debut came Wednesday in a two-inning relief stint. He gave up three runs on four hits to the Seattle Mariners in his first inning of work, leaving it anyone’s guess as to how he might respond in a starting situation.
But Workman, 24, kept the A’s off-balance most of the afternoon, retiring 17 of his first 18 batters. The only base runner he allowed before the seventh came on John Jaso’s fourth-inning walk.
“I was able to locate my fastball to both sides of the plate early, and I just worked off that as the game went on,” the soft-spoken Workman said. “I knew (the no-hitter) was going on, but it wasn’t something I was worried about. I was still just trying to execute pitches.”
He led 2-0 when he lost the no-no on his first batter of the seventh. Coco Crisp, the A’s speedy leadoff man, grounded sharply up the middle. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a terrific diving stop and a strong throw to first, but Crisp easily beat it out for a single.
Pedroia was asked if he would have gotten the out if someone other than Crisp was running.
“I don’t know,” Pedroia said of his ex-teammate. “Coco runs well. He gets out of the box really well.”
Workman retired Jaso on a pop-up but then ran the count full to A’s No. 3 hitter Josh Donaldson. For one of the rare times all afternoon, he missed location with a 3-2 fastball and Donaldson belted a game-tying shot that hit off the green facing high above the wall in left-center.
That ended Workman’s afternoon, and you can debate whether Farrell should have brought the hook sooner in a close game. The rookie was at 103 pitches by the time he left. Farrell said Donaldson would have been Workman’s final hitter regardless, and added that he did not second-guess his decision.
Farrell was impressed with more than Workman’s stuff.
“The thing that continued to be repeated about Brandon was talk about his intangibles,” the manager said. “His mound presence, his poise. It was another example of that tonight.”
According to the team, Workman is the first Sox pitcher to allow three or fewer base runners in his first major league start since George Hockette allowed three on Sept. 17, 1934.
Farrell unveiled his rotation coming out of the All-Star break.
Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Jon Lester will start the Yankees series, in that order, beginning Friday. Ryan Dempster will pitch the opener of a four-game series with Tampa Bay, and the fifth spot out of the break has yet to be determined, but Workman certainly made a strong case for it.
Clay Buchholz threw a bullpen session before Sunday’s game, but he is scheduled to throw again on the side and then pitch a simulated game before any talk of him returning to the rotation is even considered.
Matt Thornton’s Boston debut didn’t go as planned.
The lefty reliever entered in the 11th inning of a 2-2 game and took Sunday’s loss, his first appearance since coming over from the Chicago White Sox in Friday’s trade.
It was Donaldson’s bloop single that was the walkoff hit, but Thornton was kicking himself for walks to pinch hitters Chris Young and Derek Norris that put the winning run in scoring position.
“I made a good pitch to Josh, but that hit doesn’t matter if I don’t walk guys,” Thornton said.
Former Athletic Jonny Gomes, a native of nearby Petaluma, Calif., was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing with home plate ump Todd Tichenor. Gomes tried calling timeout but was not granted it and struck out swinging. He struck out two other times – both looking -- and was not pleased with either called third strike.
The Red Sox outrighted pitcher Alfredo Aceves to Triple-A Pawtucket. He is off the 40-man roster.
BY JOE STIGLICH