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BOS@NYY: Doubront fans eight over 6 1/3 solid innings

What a difference a year makes. Or maybe not.

Entering Sept. 1, 2011, Boston was 83-52, but things quickly went downhill last season as the club eventually lost out on a playoff berth on the last day of the season.

It didn't get much better this year, entering September with a 62-71 mark.

The Red Sox will be hoping to reverse that bad fortune and snap a five-game road losing streak when they take on the Athletics, trying to even up a three-game weekend series.

They'll send Felix Doubront to the mound, and he'll have a chance to right Boston's ship. He hasn't fared well in his last three starts, allowing at least three runs in each.

His most recent outing resulted in a no-decision against the Royals, in which he allowed four runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. All of the damage against him came in the fourth inning, and three of the runs came on a homer by Lorenzo Cain.

Manager Bobby Valentine, cautious of the 24-year-old's young arm, said he's thought about how often Doubront will pitch going forward.

"I don't think it's going to be five days necessarily, but regular rotated through, yeah," Valentine said. "Unless he says something about it."

Oakland, meanwhile, is gunning for its eighth straight win, which would be a season high for the club. Still gunning for a playoff spot, manager Bob Melvin said there's still a long way to go.

"Once it turns to September, it turns to how many games there are and where you are in the standings, but we're not going to look at it differently," Melvin said. "With the group of guys that we have and as many young players, we're just looking at the particular day, and that's the way we're going to continue looking at it. We are concerned with the day, and we try to look all of our efforts into the day."

A.J. Griffin will be coming off the disabled list to make the start for the A's, having not pitched since Aug. 4 with a strained right shoulder.

He left his most recent start after 1 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays because of the injury. The 24-year-old has been impressive in the first eight starts of his Major League career, going 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA.

Griffin is expected to take over for Bartolo Colon, who is serving a 50-game suspension. Griffin also made a pair of rehab starts for Triple-A Sacramento before being activated, and the last was a five-inning outing in which he gave up just one run.

"I felt like I was holding back a little bit that first outing and maybe thinking about it too much, so my location was off," Griffin said about the rehab assignment. "I got my location back the second time and am feeling confident."

Red Sox: Hill to return from disabled list
• Reliever Rich Hill will be a beneficiary of Saturday's expanded rosters, allowing him to return from the disabled list.

The lefty hasn't appeared in a game for Boston since June 8 due to a strained flexor in his left elbow. The injury is a far cry from some of the others he's incurred in his career, including recovery from Tommy John surgery, and Hill says he is happy just to make his return.

"I mean, obviously it was just a bump in the road looking back on it, but you want to be back out there competing, getting after it," Hill said. "I'm looking forward to pitching."

Hill has thrown 13 2/3 innings this season over 17 games, allowing four runs on 12 hits and seven walks with 11 strikeouts.

Athletics: Inge to come off disabled list
• While expanded rosters in September are usually a great sign for young prospects eager to have their shot at the Majors, veteran Brandon Inge will have another crack with Oakland.

The third baseman, who was out with a sprained right shoulder, could be activated from the disabled list Saturday after not having played since Aug. 11.

"We'll get him through the workout today," Melvin said on Friday. "And if all goes well, there's a good chance we'll activate him [Saturday]."

Inge was batting .216 with 12 homers on the season and had started 62 of the last 65 of Oakland's games prior to the injury.

Worth noting
• The Red Sox will not make any immediate September callups aside from activating Hill from the disabled list.

• Oakland recalled reliever Pedro Figueroa prior to Friday's game with Boston, and he pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing a hit and issuing a walk.

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