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BOS@OAK: Griffin dazzles over eight scoreless frames

OAKLAND -- A.J. Griffin's game plan on Saturday vs. the Red Sox was simple. Don't repeat what he did against Boston at Fenway Park.

On April 22, Griffin allowed a career-high nine runs in four-plus innings. This time, he gave them none in eight innings.

"I watched the video when I got to the ballpark and went over a few things with him," catcher Derek Norris said. "I told him, 'When you got in trouble, you missed location. Any time you hit your location with your pitches you were fine.' So that was our No. 1 thing tonight."

And that's what got the first-place A's their 55th win, a 3-0 shutout over Boston -- most by the club before the All-Star break since 1975, when it also tallied 55.

The victory, solidified by Grant Balfour's 25th save of the season and 43rd consecutive, also put to bed a two-game losing streak. Oakland has not lost more than two straight since dropping five in a row May 6-10.

Facing the American League East-leading Red Sox, Griffin wasn't exactly at his best, boarding runners in every inning but his last two, yet he never allowed one to score.

"He definitely was a lot more efficient with somebody on than when nobody was on, but that's what a lot of great pitchers do," Norris said. "They have to bear down when people get on base, and he did. He made his pitches when he needed to. Even when he fell behind, he got ahead and worked efficiently."

"I got 'em to hit it to people," said Griffin, smiling. "That's a good lineup over there, and I was just trying to execute pitches.

"Days like this, you just try to keep them off the board as long as you can and minimize things. Luckily for me, I got to make the good pitches at the right times and get out of some jams, and that's big, especially after my showing against them last time at Fenway. That didn't go very well. So I wanted to go out there and pitch my game."

Griffin's efforts were aided by key situational hitting and a dose of the long ball courtesy of Norris, whose fifth-inning solo shot to left field on a 0-2 pitch off lefty Jon Lester -- his fifth of the season -- broke a scoreless tie.

"My first at-bat with two strikes, he gave me a heater as well, and I check-swinged to first base," Norris said. "Maybe in his mind he thought I was looking offspeed."

The A's added on in the sixth, when Yoenis Cespedes collected his first RBI of the month with a single that plated Jed Lowrie following one from Josh Donaldson. Then, in the seventh, Lester put two men on base before departing with one out in favor of righty Junichi Tazawa, who proceeded to offer up an RBI single to Coco Crisp.

It marked the seventh hit of the night for the A's, who finished with eight overall to snap a streak of four consecutive games with five hits or less. Cespedes reached base on three occasions for the first time since June 4.

"When he's going well, he's using the whole field and he has power to the entire ballpark," manager Bob Melvin said. "That's when he's at his best. It was a good night for him and hopefully that's something to build off of."

For Griffin, who hadn't completed six innings in each of previous two starts, it marked the third time this season he's gotten through eight and the fourth time he hasn't allowed a run.

The A's righty allowed six hits with one walk and three strikeouts while tossing a career-high-tying 110 pitches on the night, all the while stranding seven on base.

"I just try to act like No. 40, just not show they got me in a situation where they have the upper hand," Griffin said. "I just try to stay calm, and that's something I've learned a lot from watching Bartolo [Colon] pitch."

"The guy on the other side, you just tip your hat sometimes when he pitches better than you and that was the case tonight," Lester said. "He threw the [heck] out of the ball tonight. It was pretty impressive what he did." Comments