A's narrow wild-card gap to just half a game

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Tim Hudson just wasn't himself. He had no
control over his fastball, and he was struggling with his location.

He gave up a home run to Boston's Carl Everett in the second inning and he thought that was it.

But it was the only run Hudson allowed through eight innings as the Oakland Athletics beat the Red Sox 6-1 Wednesday night.

"Those first couple of innings, I thought I was going to give
our bullpen some early work," he said.

A sellout crowd of 50,863, including a Coliseum-record 22,800
walk-up ticket sales, watched the A's match their longest winning
streak this season.

Boston's lead in the wild card race was cut to just a half-game
over Oakland.

Hudson (14-6) said his agenda was clear.

"When you're going head-to-head against one of the teams you're
up against, you've got to win," he said.

Hudson, who lowered his ERA to 2.99, allowed one run and eight
hits in eight innings, striking out five and walking two. He has
lost just one of his last seven starts.

"When he had to make a pitch, he made it," Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "We got hits early off him, but we only scored one run."

Jason Giambi hit his 26th home run in the first inning off Frank
Castillo (7-6). The shot into the right-field seats scored Johnny
Damon, who singled to lead off for the A's.

Giambi, the reigning AL MVP, has hit safely in a season-high
nine straight games.

The Red Sox narrowed it on Everett's solo home run off Hudson to
start off the second. It was Everett's 11th homer.

In an odd twist, Damon's third-inning hit to the right-field
corner rolled into a cup discarded by a fan. As Damon ran home, Red
Sox right fielder Trot Nixon threw up his hands to appeal to the
umpires, who ruled the hit was a double.

Damon wasn't sure if he'd hit a double, triple or inside-the-park-homer.

"I put my head down and tried to get a triple out of it. That could have cost us a run," he said. "But when something like that happens, you can't get mad."

The A's went up 4-1 in the fourth inning. Ramon Hernandez
doubled to scored Eric Chavez, who singled with two outs. Hernandez
scored on F.P. Santangelo's single.

The A's added a run in the fifth inning on Terrence Long's
grounder, and Jermaine Dye hit an RBI single in the seventh.

Castillo, activated from the disabled list before the game,
allowed five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings.

Castillo, making his first start since June 28, had been on the
DL with a right shoulder strain.

Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was back in the lineup
Wednesday night after sitting out Tuesday night with swelling in
his right wrist. Garciaparra missed the first three months of the
season after surgery on the wrist.

Game notes
To make room for Castillo, the Red Sox placed RHP Bret Saberhagen (1-2) on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his
right shoulder. ... Tim Wakefield, scheduled to start Wednesday for
Boston, will pitch Thursday while Hideo Nomo nurses a blister. ...
A's SS Frank Menechino was out of the lineup with soreness in his
left elbow. He was considered day-to-day. Santangelo, recalled from
Triple-A Sacramento on July 31, took over for Menechino at second.
... Boston 3B Chris Stynes singled in the fourth inning, extending
his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games. ... Damon had his
third straight multi-hit game and fifth in eight August games. ...
Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli is 10-for-25 with five RBI in his
last seven starts behind the plate.