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BOS@OAK: Salty connects for a solo home run to right

OAKLAND -- There was one piece of good news following another disappointing performance by the Red Sox. August is over.

After a 20-2 loss to the Athletics on Friday night, Boston finished the month with a 9-21 record, making it truly feel like the dog days.

When August started, the Red Sox were 53-51 and trailing in the American League Wild Card standings by a manageable 3 1/2 games.

But things went south rapidly, leading to last week's blockbuster trade, which sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.

After the trade, which was clearly made with an eye toward 2013 and beyond, the Red Sox have continued to stumble.

They are 0-4 through the early portion of a nine-game West Coast road trip. With 29 games left in the season, Boston is out of realistic contention.

In perhaps the most recurring theme of the season, a Boston starting pitcher dug an early hole for the team on Friday night.

This time, there were no signs of bailout from the bullpen. It just kept getting worse and worse.

"There's really nothing to talk about," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "The score was 20-2."

Aaron Cook was touched up for four runs in the second and two more in the third. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and six runs.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he was worried even when Cook threw a scoreless first, because all three outs were hit in the air. When Cook is going well, just about everything is on the ground.

"I was kind of hoping it wouldn't be quite as rough," Cook said. "I was leaving balls in the middle of the plate up to a real good-hitting team that's really hot right now. The ball was up from me and they're hitting it on the barrel -- it's not a good night."

It was a very good night for the former Red Sox players who now play for Oakland.

Brandon Moss went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs. George Kottaras went deep twice and drove in five. Josh Reddick had a couple of hits, including a grand slam. At least Coco Crisp went easy on his old team, going 0-for-5.

"I think when they're confident like this and swinging well, it's hard to stop them, but right now it seems like everyone is meshing at the same time," said A's starter Brandon McCarthy, who earned the win. "One through nine, it's been pretty solid. It's rare [to score that much], but when it happens it's fun to watch."

The 62-71 Red Sox, however, aren't having a whole lot of fun these days.

"We got our [butts] kicked," said Cook. "We lost by 18 runs. How are we supposed to feel? Feel bad about it. Try to come back out tomorrow. How would you feel if you got beat by 18 runs tonight? Not too good. Go take a shower and move on."

Offensively, Boston didn't do much against McCarthy or Oakland's bullpen.

Pedroia led the nine-hit attack by going 2-for-4. Mauro Gomez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia had the RBIs.

"It wasn't any fun for anyone, that's for sure, except for the guys on the other side," Valentine said.

Daniel Bard made his first appearance for the Red Sox since being demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 5. The righty gave up two hits in his inning of work, including a solo homer by Kottaras, who also hit a two-run shot in the eighth.

"The adrenaline was there -- it wasn't the eighth inning with a one-run lead but it's a lot bigger stage than what I've pitched on the last couple of months," said Bard. "It was fun, I felt comfortable out there. I wasn't quite as sharp as I'd like to be but I haven't pitched in four days, but it was good to be back out there."

As the calendar flips to September on Saturday, the Red Sox hope things will start to change.

"We've got to send a good pitcher out there tomorrow and have him shut them down and give us a chance to score some runs and not play from four runs back and we'll be fine," Valentine said.

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