BOSTON (AP) — Jason Varitek hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs to back another solid daytime start by Jon Lester, leading the Boston Red Sox to a 9-3 win over the Oakland Athletics Saturday in the opener of a rain-soaked split-doubleheader.
Two rain delays totaling 3 hours slowed a game moved up to noon to make room for the nightcap that was rescheduled from Sunday to avoid Hurricane Irene’s effects. Fans with tickets for the 5:05 p.m. start were allowed through the turnstiles during the 2 hour, 15 minute delay in the eighth inning of Game 1. The game ended at 6:08 p.m.
David Ortiz added a pair of doubles and drove in two runs and Mike Aviles collected three singles for Boston, which won for the seventh time in 10 games to improve its AL East lead to 1½ games over second-place New York.
Brandon Allen hit a solo homer for Athletics. Oakland lost for just the fourth time in 11 games one day after scoring a season-high 15 runs to capture the series opener.
Lester (14-6) gave up two runs — one earned — on three hits, walking two and striking out four over six innings to improve to 7-0 in nine afternoon starts. He held down a hot Oakland lineup that had averaged nine runs in its previous four games.
Michael Bowden pitched the final two innings.
Lester started under bright skies but heavy rain fell on and off during the middle innings before play was halted the first time as he was ready to take the mound in the seventh. He didn’t come back when the game resumed after the first delay — 45 minutes.
It was delayed again for 2 hours, 15 minutes after Vartiek bounced weakly to the mound, ending the seventh.
The Red Sox scored three runs in each of the second and third innings against Guillermo Moscoso (6-8) to open a 7-2 lead. After Moscoso retired the first two batters in the second, Josh Reddick walked before Varitek homered into Boston’s bullpen. Jacoby Ellsbury added an RBI double.
After Oakland scored an unearned run in the top of the third on Coco Crisp’s sacrifice fly, Ortiz doubled in a pair following a double by Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia’s walk. Ortiz went to third on the play when shortstop Cliff Pennington’s throw bounced past catcher Kurt Suzuki for an error, and scored on Carl Crawford’s sacrifice fly, making it 7-2.
Marco Scutaro’s RBI single increased it to 8-2 in the fourth and Varitek added an RBI single the next inning.
Moscoso gave up eight runs — seven earned — nine hits and walked a pair without striking out anyone. It was just the second time in his last six starts he’s allowed more than two runs.
Boston moved ahead 1-0 in the first on Pedroia’s RBI single, but Allen homered into second row of seats above the Green Monster to tie it in the second.
NOTES: Gonzalez’s third-inning double gave him 183 hits, a new career high. … Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that RHP Clay Buchholz, a key part of the rotation who has been on the DL since June 17 with a strained lower back, will be re-examined in “the next couple of days. But even if the examination is good, he’s not allowed to throw until (Sept. 1).” … Red Sox LF Crawford was back in the lineup after being rested Friday. … Oakland stole its first three bases (Jemile Weeks, 2, and Pennington) without even a throw by catcher Varitek. … The A’s were expected to recall Graham Godfrey (1-1) from Triple-A Sacramento in between games to start the nightcap. Boston planned on lefty Erik Bedard (4-9), who is 0-2 since being acquired from Seattle on July 31. … SS Scutaro made a nice over the should grab in short left on Ryan Sweeney’s soft line drive and Pennington made a diving play before firing to first on Ortiz’s grounder in the second. … Cleaning crews were working in the stands during the second delay, trying to get the seats ready for the second game.
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.)