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OAK@TB: McCarthy allows two runs over seven in win

This weekend's series between the A's and Red Sox in Oakland pits two teams heading in the opposite direction.

As has been the trend for most of the season, it's the streaking A's who enter Friday's opener winners of six straight, while Boston's struggles have continued.

But despite Boston's recent play -- entering Thursday with only three wins in its last 10 games -- A's manager Bob Melvin knows the Red Sox still possess the ability to get hot and wreak havoc on Oakland's Wild Card aspirations.

"It's always a good team, regardless. Even when they had injuries this year, they were still, what, second in the league in runs?" Melvin said. "Some of the bigger names have gone away, but that doesn't mean that they don't have as good a chance to win games.

"Sometimes, with all the hoopla that goes on in a place like that, it can be a relief at times and guys can relax and play better. They have a good team, regardless. Before the trade, after the trade: They are a dangerous club."

The task of handling the Red Sox in Friday's opener falls to right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who is making his fifth start since returning from a right shoulder issue earlier this month. McCarthy has done well since coming back, with only one bad start -- allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings to the Twins on Aug. 20.

His other three starts have been of the quality variety, including beating the Rays last time out, holding Tampa Bay to two runs in seven innings.

"I thought that was quite the recovery for him, especially with the way he pitched last time," Melvin said afterward.

Boston right-hander Aaron Cook also had a good start his last time out -- allowing three runs in six innings against the Royals -- and looks to cap a less-than-stellar August on Friday with consecutive good outings against the A's. Cook is 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA in five starts this month, with only two quality starts.

The right-hander lost to the A's in his lone start against them this year, dropping a July 4 decision when he allowed three runs in six innings. Cook has a 2.05 ERA in three career starts against the A's.

Red Sox: Bard back in bullpen
Daniel Bard was activated on Thursday after being demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket in June.

Bard, who began the year in the rotation after a stellar 2011 season out of the bullpen, is now back in the bullpen. While he went 3-2 with a 7.03 ERA in 31 appearances for Pawtucket, Bard said he's optimistic that his time in the Minors has helped.

"It just gave me a chance to work on some things without too much consequence in the results," Bard said. "I worked on accomplishing some really good things, and I'm headed in the right direction, and now I just need to get back in a competitive environment and focus on competing with the hitter."

A's: California Little League team to be honored
The A's will honor the Petaluma Little League Team in a pregame ceremony before Friday's series opener against the Red Sox. Petaluma, the hometown of A's outfielder Jonny Gomes, finished third in the Little League World Series on Sunday.

Gomes helped raise money during the team's run to cover its trip to Williamsport, Pa.

"If I was lucky enough to go to Williamsport when I was 12, there would be no chance my family would have been able to go on their own dollar, and how bummed out I would be about that," Gomes said.

• By walking three batters on Thursday, Jarrod Parker snapped a 25-game streak in which A's starters had walked two batters or fewer, the longest such streak in Oakland history.

Worth noting
• McCarthy is 2-3 with a 5.23 ERA in eight career appearances (five starts) against the Red Sox. Current Boston hitters are batting a combined .161 (5-for-31) against him, with Mike Aviles hitless in seven at-bats.

• Gomes is 7-for-14 in his career against Cook with three home runs.

• Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has a hit in the Red Sox's last 10 games, hitting .333 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs.

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