Byline: Janie McCauley
OAKLAND, Calif. - Justin Duchscherer carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, Ryan Sweeney homered, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Boston Red Sox, 3-0, last night for their first series win in their past five.
Duchscherer (4-3) outdueled Josh Beckett and had a perfect game going into the sixth before he plunked Jason Varitek to start the inning. David Ortiz broke up the no-hit bid with a single up the middle with one out in the seventh.
Duchscherer struck out four and didn't issue a walk in eight innings, allowing just that one hit. Huston Street finished the team's second shutout of the year with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances.
The 2-hour, 17-minute game was the fastest for Boston this year.
The 30-year-old Duchscherer lost his previous two outings and had all of three career starts in the big leagues coming into this season, then spent a stint on the disabled list with a strained biceps muscle.
Beckett (5-4) wasn't bad himself. The righty, trying to win consecutive starts for the second time this year, struck out nine for the second straight start. He allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings and didn't walk a batter for the second time in 2008, throwing 76 strikes among his 107 pitches.
The A's snapped Boston's seven-game winning streak with an 8-3 win in the series opener Friday, then took the middle game for their third straight victory and to capture a series for the first time since sweeping the Baltimore Orioles at home from May 5-7.
Duchscherer was efficient, regularly threw his curveball for strike one, had his fastball working and commanded the zone with all of his pitches.
After Varitek was hit to reach base for Boston, Coco Crisp tried to bunt for a hit but the ball rolled just foul down the first base line before he later struck out. Duchscherer got through six innings on 78 pitches.
After Beckett allowed Mike Sweeney's leadoff double in the second, Emil Brown's RBI groundout gave the A's a 1-0 lead. Mark Ellis followed with a single, and Beckett then retired the next 11 Oakland hitters before Bobby Crosby's single leading off the sixth.
Slumping Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez got the night off, a mental break of sorts. He is slated to play in today's series finale. Ramirez has two hits in his past 23 at-bats and is hitting .189 (17 for 90) over his past 24 games.
"He's had a tough stretch," manager Terry Francona said. "He came in here a little bit ago and said thanks. He's...