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BOS@OAK: Red Sox's defense comes up short vs. A's

OAKLAND -- The start of a new month did nothing to change the fortunes of the Red Sox on Saturday night. Instead, an already unsettling West Coast road trip developed more negative vibes in a 7-1 loss to the Athletics.

One night after giving up 20 runs to the red-hot Athletics, the Sox needed a pitcher to stop the bleeding.

Instead, lefty Felix Doubront was shelled for five runs and six hits while lasting just three innings.

"It's getting old, real old," said manager Bobby Valentine. "The offense is stressed and it's a tough way to play the game."

While pitching has been a glaring problem for the Red Sox on this road trip, the bats haven't been anything special either.

Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin had a perfect game going through 4 2/3 innings, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia broke it up in somewhat controversial fashion, dropping down a bunt single that infuriated the home crowd.

"You know what? I know it's unpopular, but he's trying to get on base," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "I should have probably had a third baseman there."

The Red Sox are 0-5 on this nine-game road trip, and 62-72 on the season. Boston has lost 21 of its last 30.

Is this road trip starting to get embarrassing?

"Yeah," confirmed Dustin Pedroia. "It's tough. We're trying to come out and get on the board first and haven't done that in a while. We need to start doing that."

Alfredo Aceves came on to pitch the fourth. Although he didn't give up any runs in that inning, it became unsettling in short order.

Jonny Gomes hit a foul popup that Saltalamacchia seemed to have an easy play on. Aceves intervened and dropped the ball. With Coco Crisp on second, Aceves made three pickoff throws to second base. On the last one, Pedroia was several steps from the bag, and he had a heated exchange with Aceves between innings.

"I'm not sure it was a big flare up," Valentine said. "It was just about positioning. Dustin told him he moves when he gets the sign. [Aceves] wanted to kind of move him on his own. It's Alfredo being Alfredo and Dustin being a baseball player."

Pedroia and Aceves both declined to elaborate on any specifics of their conversation.

"It was something that we have to communicate on, between us, but that's us. That stays with us," Aceves said. "That's part of the game. Whatever happens in the game stays in the game."

The one thing that Red Sox desperately wanted to do on Saturday was play with a lead, but Crisp made that impossible when he led off Oakland's first with a homer to left field against Doubront.

While Griffin carved up the Sox's bats, the A's came through with a big inning against Doubront in the third. Even after Crisp was thrown out at the plate on a double by Gomes, Doubront couldn't capitalize. With two outs, Oakland got an RBI single by Yoenis Cespedes, a two-run double by Brandon Inge and an RBI single by Derek Norris.

The Red Sox were staring at a 5-0 deficit.

"He didn't have that putaway pitch," Valentine said. "Those foul balls just got him out of the game. It started off with a two-strike home run and there were two strikes, and they started fouling balls off. Just wore him down."

While the A's have reeled off eight wins in a row, the Red Sox haven't been this far out of the postseason picture in years, trailing by 12 games in the Wild Card standings with 28 to play.

"We've just got to continue to go out and fight and not give in," said right fielder Cody Ross. "Keep going."

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