By Sean McAdam
OAKLAND, Calif. -- It had been a long time since John Lackey had last pitched. But watching him work Tuesday night, that was hardly evident.
Lackey, whose last turn in the rotation was skipped following a rainout at home, tossed six innings and allowed just one run on four hits against the Oakland A's.
The Sox were shut out, 5-0, resulting in a tough-luck loss for Lackey, who fell to 1-2.
"I felt pretty good," said Lackey. "I was locating pretty well. I was able to throw my breaking pitches over for strikes and my fastball location was definitely better than it was the first two times."
Asked if he had ever had a layoff that long that wasn't related to a physical issue, Lackey said: "I've never been skipped before, no."
When asked if the decision hurt his pride some, Lackey thought for a second before saying: "It was not fun."
"I thought he did tremendous," said Terry Francona of his starter. "I thought he was terrific. The problem was, we didn't score. But I thought he bounced back well. It's been a long week for him. The layoff was tough for him and he did a great job."
Hideki Okajima, who was called up from Pawtucket over the weekend, made his 2011 debut -- and it was hardly a success.
Okajima entered the game with the Sox trailing 1-0 and a baserunner on second and no out in the eighth. By the time he left, it was 4-0 and would soon grow to 5-0.
After getting Coco Crisp to fly to center, Okajima allowed a run-scoring single to Daric Barton. Following a called stirkeout of David DeJesus, he walked Josh Willingham, then gave up a two-run double to Hideki Matsui.
Alfredo Aceves then came up and was touched for a run-scoring single by Kurt Suzuki, which was charged to Okajima.
Terry Francona was ejected for the first time this season after the Sox believed that Brett Anderson had committed a balk in the fourth inning.
DeMarlo Hale managed the game the rest of the way.
"The rule is you can't deceive a runner," said Francona. "He started to the plate, changed his mind, landed toward the plate . . . For me, it was a balk all the way."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a rough night, as the A's ran unchecked on the bases, with two stolen bases.
Not counting pickoffs, opponents have been successful 14-of-17 times in attempting to steal.
Tuesday night, Coco Crisp stole second to lead off the bottom of the first and soon scored the first run of the game. In the eighth, Cliff Pennington swiped third after a leadoff double and scored the second run of the night.
Saltalamacchia also mishandled a throw from the outfield and had difficulty throwing the ball back to the mound once, skipping the ball to the left of Lackey.
Matt Albers (lat pull), who threw twoinnings of relief (one hit, one strikeout) for Pawtucket Tuesday night,will meet the Red Sox in Anaheim and presumably be activated for thestart of the series Thursday.
It's likely thatAlfredo Aceves will be returned to Pawtucket and placed in the Paw Soxstarting rotation to get stretched out.