OAKLAND, Calif. -- Scott Kazmir hasn't been made the American League All-Star team since 2008, but it's hard to fathom that he won't end that drought this year.
As if Kazmir's numbers aren't worthy enough on quick glance, the A's left-hander showed John Farrell, the Boston skipper who will be managing the A.L. All-Stars, why he belongs. Save one mistake to longtime nemesis Dustin Pedroia, Kazmir thoroughly stifled the Red Sox on Thursday night in a 4-2 Oakland victory before 24,371 at the Coliseum.
Kazmir, now 9-2 with a 2.08 ERA, didn't walk a batter and struck out eight over seven innings as the 45-28 A's won their third straight and fifth in six games to build a season-best six-game lead in the A.L. West.
Kazmir sailed through the first five innings allowing just two hits and no runs, and had retired nine straight hitters when he got Jackie Bradley Jr. to fly out to start the sixth. But Brock Holt laced a single to left, and after Kazmir struck out Xander Bogaerts for the second out, Pedroia hit a long fly to left that just got over the wall for a two-run homer. Yoenis Cespedes actually leapt high above the wall to try to snare the ball, but it skipped off his glove over the fence.
The home run ended a Kazmir string of 18 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. But if anyone was going to get Kazmir on this night, it figured it might be Pedroia, who is now 19 for 38 lifetime against the lefty with two homers.
But that's all Boston would get. Kazmir struck out Mike Napoli for the third time to end the sixth and then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to end yet another sterling performance. Luke Gregerson continued his hot run with a 1-2-3 eighth, and Dan Otero earned his first career save with a scoreless ninth.
Oakland chipped away slowly against veteran Boston starter Jake Peavy (1-5) in building a 3-0 lead. They scratched for a single run in the second when Josh Donaldson singled and Jed Lowrie followed with a walk. Peavy forced Donaldson at third on a Derek Norris comebacker, but in trying to get a double play, Red Sox third baseman Bogaerts threw wildly past first base.
Lowrie and Norris moved up to second and third, and Stephen Vogt followed with a ground out to second base that put the A's up 1-0.
With two out in the third, Cespedes launched his 14th home run of the year, a long shot over the high wall in left-center field, to give Oakland a 2-0 advantage.
Oakland added a third run in the fourth when Lowrie doubled to left-center and Vogt lofted a two-out bloop single.
Oakland scored an insurance run in the seventh. Vogt drew a one-out walk and was forced at second on an Alberto Callaspo groundout. Eric Sogard pinch-ran for Callaspo, and after Coco Crisp walked, John Jaso singled to center to score Sogard.
-- Left-handed pitcher Brad Mills, acquired from Milwaukee on Tuesday, will start Friday night's game against the Red Sox, and Jesse Chavez, who was originally scheduled to pitch, will be pushed back to Saturday.
A's manager Bob Melvin said there was never any doubt Mills would step into the rotation once he arrived but didn't want to commit until he actually arrived in Oakland.
Asked his reaction to the A's acquiring him for a mere $1, Mills said, "I thought it was a joke, but whatever they had to do to make it official, I'm all for. I don't take it as a value of my worth as a baseball player."
Oakland had not yet announced a corresponding move to add Mills to the roster.
-- After a 1-for-3 night in his first rehab start Wednesday with Triple-A Sacramento in Round Rock, Texas, Josh Reddick followed up with another 1 for 3 that included an RBI double and a walk Thursday night. Reddick, who is recovering from a knee injury, went from first to third on a single in his first game, and Melvin said he'd received reports that the outfielder was running well.
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