OAKLAND, Calif. -- The 2012 Oakland Athletics are so hot right now, they're drawing comparisons to the 2002 squad that won an American League-record 20 straight games.
Seth Smith hit a two-run homer and Stephen Drew homered for the first time in an A's uniform and had two RBIs as the Oakland Athletics completed a three-game sweep of the Red Sox with a 6-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Brett Anderson pitched six innings, allowed five hits and a run, walked one and struck out four to earn the victory as the A's won their ninth straight game.
"You go out there and pound the (strike) zone, try to get early contact and I was able to minimize my pitch count for the most part until the sixth (inning) but it was good," Anderson said.
Anderson (3-0) missed most of last season and has won each of his three starts since his return on August 21 from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
"You always want to be optimistic," Anderson said of his comeback. "But you have days when ( you wonder), 'Am I going to get back, am I going to be able to produce?' And this all makes it worthwhile whenever you come back and pitch well and help the team win games you need to win towards the end of the season. It couldn't be going better right now and hopefully
I'll continue to do so next time."
Besides having a season-best nine-game winning streak, the Athletics hold the top spot in the Wild Card race and are now just three games back of Texas in the American League West.
Nonetheless, manager Bob Melvin cautions his team to not look ahead.
"At the end of the day you've got to go out there and produce on the field and win ballgames," Anderson said. "We've done a good job of that so far. We've got a big series coming up. We expect the staff to keep pitching like they have and the offense and the defense. It's going to be a fun series against the Angels."
Teammate Josh Reddick agreed.
"Bob's made it very clear to us to focus one day at a time and that's what we're going to keep doing," Reddick said. "You go home at night, you wake up worried about the Angels. You put this game behind you and focus on the next day.
The wins obviously make it a lot easier but just turn the page real quick."
Last year, the Red Sox had an epic collapse and just missed out on clinching a playoff berth. This year, the entire season has been a disappointment, and the final month is simply driving the last nail into the coffin.
"We don't have the firepower to keep climbing out of big holes," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "It's very frustrating getting in situations. They're hitting behind in the count and it's a tough way to make a living."
When asked how Valentine is coping with team's six-game losing streak on this road trip he tersely replied, "What difference does it make?"
Daisuke Matsuzaka had his second-worst outing of the season, allowing seven hits and six runs while walking four in just 3 2/3 innings. His worst performance was also at Oakland on July 2 when he lasted one inning, allowing five runs on four hits surrendering two home runs.
"I don't necessarily feel I pitch poorly here but this team is really hot right now and I'm really disappointed as a starter I wasn't able to do my job today," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter.
The A's built a 6-0 lead before the Red Sox scored a run in the sixth on Cody Ross' RBI single to left. The Red Sox tried to score a second run on the same play, but Yoenis Cespedes nailed Scott Podsednik with a perfect one-hop throw to the plate.
In the ninth, Dustin Pedroia doubled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Mauro Gomez.
But with fans chanting sweep, Grant Balfour struck out Ryan Lavarnway to end the game.
"Nobody's quitting, we're professionals," Pedroia said. "We're going to play as hard as we can. This is a trying league. You've got to go out and play well and perform well to win games and we haven't done that. You've got to believe it's going to turn around."
NOTES: The last time the A's won more than nine straight games was June 8-18, 2006, when they won 10 in a row.... Oakland has won eight straight against the Red Sox, tying a franchise record set back in 1932 . . . Drew had his best game since joining the Athletics, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. ... Pedroia has a 13-game hit streak. He was 3-for-4 and is one hit shy of 1,000 for his career. ... Boston was outscored in this series 33-5, highlighted by a 20-2 loss on Friday night.
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