By Sean McAdam
OAKLAND, Calif. -- As they have already demonstrated this season, the Red Sox need no help when it comes to losing on the road.
Nonetheless, they may have received some unsolicited contributions from the umpiring crew in the opener of their nine-game road trip Tuesday night, nudging them toward their worst start to a season on the road in franchise history.
It's likely that the Red Sox weren't going to do with much against Oakland A's lefty Brett Anderson, who shut them out for eight innings before turning things over to his bullpen for a scoreless ninth in a 5-0 victory for the A's.
But every time the Sox had opportunities, a break seemed to go against them.
With just one baserunner in the first three innings, the Sox put the leadoff man on in the fourth after a walk to Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia took off for second with Adrian Gonzalez at bat, hoping to put himself in scoring position. But Anderson whirled and threw to first baseman Daric Barton, who in turn, fired down to shortstop Cliff Pennington to nab Pedroia.
Pedroia was so convinced that Anderson had balked that he could be seen shouting the word on his way to second; manager Terry Francona was so convinced he immediately was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds.
"The rule is, you can't deceive a baserunner," said Francona. "He went in two different directions. He started to the plate, changed his mind, landed toward the plate . . . For me, it was a balk all the way."
"I don't know, man . . . I don't know," said Pedroia, shaking his head in disbelief after the game. "I thought it was pretty obvious. I think I was yelling mid-run. It's hard to believe they couldn't see that.
"That's upsetting. That should have been a runner on second with Adrian up; instead, Anderson throws a nasty pitch and Adrian strikes out and he keeps rolling. It makes it tough."
Anderson then went on to retire the next nine hitters in succession and 10 of the next 11. The lone runner to reach was Gonzalez in the seventh, who hit a tapper back to the mound that Anderson first bobbled, then threw wildly to first.
Another bizarre call in the eighth, with Oakland holding a slim 1-0 lead, managed to turn against the Sox.
David Ortiz led off with a single to right and gave way to pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. With Mike Cameron at the plate and the count full, Ellsbury took off for second.
Cameron appeared to perhaps check his swing as Ellsbury broke for second, representing the potential tying run. Ellsbury seemed to have beaten the throw, but second-base umpire Andy Fletcher made no call.
After a few seconds, it was ruled that Cameron had interfered with catcher Kurt Suzuki, resulting in a double play, with Ellsbury out at second because of the interference.
"I'm confused a little bit," said Francona, who was watching from his office in the visitor's clubhouse. "When acting manager DeMarlo Hale went out, he asked, 'Whattaya got?' and he was told interference on Cameron . . . Then Hale went out in between innings and he was told by the umpires, 'No, no interference - Fletcher called Ellsbury out on the steal attempt at second.'
"So I'd like to find out what really happened. It was hard for me in here. I never saw a call made at second on the stolen-base attempt. It looked to me like they were covering up a little bit. It looked to me like there was a little bit of ambiguity. Something was not right there.
"Cam came across the plate. But then when Hale went out after the inning, he was told they called Jacoby out on the steal. Which, clearly, he wasn't, and, clearly, they didn't make a call. So I don't know."
The Sox have been shutout in the last 20 road innings. The same offense which averaged six runs per game in the four games against Toronto didn't make the trip West.
"It's a small sample," said Francona of the road woes. "But in a 1-0 game, we needed a break and we didn't get anything."
"It's tough," concluded Pedroia. "But we'll get breaks."
Just not Tuesday night.