OAKLAND, Calif. -- Over the last five games, Red Sox starters have combined for a collective ERA of 1.15. It should come as no surprise, correspondingly, that the Sox have been playing their best baseball of the season in that span and have won four of those five games.
Wednesday, it was Clay Buchholz's turn. Winless in his first three starts, Buchholz limited the A's to one run over the first five innings before tiring and walking his last two hitters in the sixth.
"Four walks made it a little more difficult," said Terry Francona. "His stuff is good. But he's got to pound the strike zone."
"There's definitely some stuff I have work on," said Buchholz. "At the same time, I was able to grind through and battle and we came out with the win."
Buchholz said he may need to tinker with his mechanics, but also hinted that he may have been squeezed in each of his final two walks. Those walks loaded the bases with A's in the sixth, and with his pitch count climbing to 103, hastened his exit.
Another ominous note for Buchholz: After allowing a solo homer to Coco Crisp in the first, he's allowed six homers in 20 13 innings. Last year, he gave up just nine all season.
Jed Lowrie's torrid stretch continued unabated. Playing third base, Lowrie had two more hits -- a fourth-inning single and a two-run homer in the sixth.
Lowrie has hit safely in eight of his last nine games and is hitting a scorching .462 this season. Despite limited playing time early on, he leads the team with 11 RBI.
"He's a huge threat," said Francona. "He's been a huge threat since last August. He's not just been getting hits; he's been getting extra-base hits."
"It's a nice hot streak," said Lowrie. "But I'm not really thinking about comparing it to anything I've done in the past. I'm just putting my head down and continuing to prepare and not think about it.
"I understand what's going on. I'm not nave. But at the same time, the more you think about it, the more you're just putting pressure on yourself in every at-bat. I'm just going to prepare like I have and know the results that I've gotten so far are the result of that preparation."
He also was robbed of extra bases in the first when Oakland right fielder David DeJesus made a leaping catch against the wall.
In Lowrie's last at-bat, DeJesus turned in another spectacular grab, catching a flyball by sliding into foul territory.
"I don't know what I did to make him mad," cracked Lowrie, "but I apologize. Those were two really good plays."
Reliever Alfredo Aceves did not travel with the team to Anaheim Wednesday night, instead readying for a flight back to Pawtucket.
Matt Albers, who has been on the DL with a lat pull since the home opener, is expected to re-join the team in southern California for the start of the four-game series with the Angels.
It's likely that Albers, who appeared in six games (2.25 ERA) out of the bullpen for the Sox, will go back into the rotation for Pawtucket so as to give the Sox some starting depth options.