OAKLAND, Calif. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell is doing his best to keep faith in his struggling team.
After watching the Red Sox waste right-hander Rubby De La Rosa's gem and suffer a 2-1 loss in 10 innings Saturday afternoon to the Oakland A's -- Boston's third straight loss to baseball's winningest team -- Farrell somehow found a positive spin.
"I look at it like this," Farrell said. "We are very close to becoming a team that will go on a run for an extended period. We got a number of really strong things in place, and that is pitching, both in terms of our rotation, our bullpen. I think we're playing very good defense. We've had situations get away from us in terms of men in scoring position."
The Red Sox left eight runners on base and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position Saturday, losing their American League-high 17th one-run game. As has happened so often this season, the Red Sox wasted a brilliant pitching performance.
De La Rosa allowed just one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking one. What's more, he pitched lights-out on the road for the first time in his young career. Going into the game, De La Rosa was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA at Fenway Park and 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA on the road.
"It's important," De La Rosa said of pitching well on the road. "It makes me more confident in my stuff."
What was working for De La Rosa?
"He had everything going," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "The biggest thing with Rubby is he throws it over the plate, and today he threw four pitches for strikes and kept them off balance. We saw how Rubby can be.
"For him to go out and pitch the way he did, he kept us in the game and gave us a chance. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a hit."
Well, at least not one with runners in scoring position. For the second straight game, former Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp came through with the big hit for Oakland. He lined a walk-off single off Koji Uehara with one out in the 10th, driving in Alberto Callaspo with the winning run. Crisp singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning off Andrew Miller in the A's 4-3 win Friday night.
"We play a one-run game every night," Pierzynski said after the Sox fell to 11-17 in one-run games. "We're just kind of used to it now. We're hoping that eventually these will turn around and we'll find a way to win these instead of just coming up short."
Their luck appeared to change in the top of the eighth inning. With Dustin Pedroia on third and David Ortiz on first with one out, A's right-hander Luke Gregerson appeared to strike out Mike Napoli swinging on a 2-2 pitch. But home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled that Napoli had foul tipped the ball and that it hit the ground. Replays showed that Vogt actually caught the ball cleanly, but the play was not reviewable under baseball's replay rules.
"Quinn heard sound and thought there was a foul ball," crew chief Gerry Davis told a pool reporter. "This type of play happens quite often actually. It's a difficult call for us. And in order to change it, we have to be positive."
Gregerson bounced his next pitch and the ball hit Vogt, and as the ball ricocheted toward the mound, Pedroia made a mad dash home and scored with a headfirst slide.
Pedroia said the fact that the Red Sox have been struggling to score influenced his decision to head home on the wild pitch.
"It's definitely a little gamble," Pedroia said. "It all depends on the situation. I think righties are hitting, like, .150 off [Gregerson]. Obviously, that was a tough at-bat, so you have to try to make something happen."
The Red Sox have scored just six runs in three games against Oakland after scoring five runs in a three-game sweep of Minnesota.
"You got to keep grinding," Pedroia said. "Obviously, we're trying too hard. Sometimes you got to keep saying, 'Let the game come to you.' You have at-bats in big situations, sometimes they make pitches on you, but sometimes they make pitches to hit and you're looking for their best location instead of just relaxing and putting a good at-bat together."
Farrell said he's heard no complaints from his starting pitchers over the lack of run support.
"That's part of the game," Farrell said. "We're going to go through stretches where starters are going to go out and give you a quality start and come away with nothing in terms of a win or a loss. That's completely out of their control. They continue to go about their work in between starts as consistent as any other time in the year. We have to continue to band together and find ways to collectively put together a complete game, and that's been a tough run here in this series coming off what I thought was a hard-fought series with Minnesota at home."
The Red Sox wasted good chances to score in the sixth inning and again in the 10th when Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded a one-out single off Dan Otero and moved to second on Brock Holt's third single of the game. But Otero retired Pedroia on a fly ball to Craig Gentry in right field, and David Ortiz struck out.
"We fought hard in this game," Farrell said. "We created some opportunities. Rubby pitched outstanding, and we've got to continue to grind away. The left-on-base is what it is, but we got to continue to believe in our guys and put forth the same approach and effort that we do."