Looking to avoid a sweep, Jon Lester will attempt to cool the red-hot Athletics, and Boston's struggling offense will try to get going against lefty Tommy Milone on Sunday in the finale of a four-game set in Oakland.
Milone was roughed up on May 3 by the Red Sox, surrendering six hits, six runs, four walks and three home runs over four innings. But he's 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA and a .230/.271/.377 slash line against in his last eight outings.
"Tommy was just outstanding," catcher Stephen Vogt said after a win over the Angels on June 11. "Name a pitch and a side of the plate, and he hit it tonight. He had all four of his pitches working, he was low in the zone, and he kept them off-balance. It's a testament to how well he's been throwing, and how well he threw tonight."
The A's have won eight of their last 10 games and five straight, including the first three of this series. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have scored just 15 runs in their last eight contests.
Lester has been strong in June besides one outing in Detroit, when he allowed five runs and 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings. Still, he's posted a 2.49 ERA and 5.50 K/BB ratio this month. He limited the Twins to four hits and one run over 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 win Tuesday after a 33-pitch first inning.
"The approach doesn't change," Lester said of laboring through an early inning. "I think the biggest thing for me was a lot of foul balls tonight. You can't really change a whole lot on that. You just hope that they put a bad part of the bat on the ball and hit it at somebody or get a hit or just move on. No, I don't think your approach changes. You've just got to keep attacking, and hopefully they hit it at somebody."
Athletics: Donaldson regaining form after slump
Third baseman Josh Donaldson had a six-game hitting streak snapped Saturday after going through an 0-for-33 stretch. Friday night, he homered for the first time since June 6.
"For him, that was quite a drought. It weighs on you a little bit," manager Bob Melvin said. "You can see the energy was back in him [Friday]. The home run certainly helped."
Donaldson is batting .253/.337/.485 with 18 homers and 55 RBIs this season. In his last seven games, he's 7-for-25 with five RBIs.
"I don't know how much you learn from it, but it certainly builds your character, and you know you're going to come out at some point in time. But you have to try to stay with the positive," Melvin said. "A lot of times you think you have to see the results before you can come out of things, where you can really mentally try to jog your memory to when you were doing well to shorten those [slumps]."
Red Sox: Slumping Bogaerts gets day off
Manager John Farrell kept slumping third baseman Xander Bogaerts out of the lineup on Saturday after talking with him "at length" about his recent struggles.
The 21-year-old is 4-for-43 (.093) since June 8, and he is hitless in his last 12 at-bats.
"Having a chance to sit with him this morning, I don't think it's him trying to make up for previous at-bats, or pressing to do more," Farrell said Saturday. "I think there's just been a stretch of time here where he's just missed his pitch on the plate."
Jonathan Herrera got the start at third base in place of Bogaerts, and Farrell said Herrera would play shortstop on Sunday to give Stephen Drew a day off.
A few months into Bogaerts' first full season in the Majors, opposing pitchers are beginning to make adjustments.
"You see that there are specific areas to the strike zone that they're trying to go to," said Farrell. "The up and in, down and away areas they're trying to exploit, and that's where I think sometimes his frustration comes in."
• The Red Sox have 17 one-run losses this season, the most among American League teams. Their 28 one-run games also marks an AL high.
• Oakland catcher Derek Norris was held out of the lineup Saturday, but Melvin said he could have been available off the bench. He exited Friday's game against the Red Sox with a bruised left forearm after being hit with a foul tip.
• Melvin said first baseman Kyle Blanks strained his left calf muscle during Friday night's game.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.