The Red Sox toted a 4-0 lead after two frames, but couldn't score any more runs despite loading the bases in the fifth and sixth innings. In all, Boston left 12 men on base, setting the stage for the dramatic -- albeit bizarre -- bottom of the 10th.
A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff dealt Boston its final blow, a two-out single to right field off Michael Bowden that scored Daric Barton from second base.
"It was up in the zone," Bowden said of the final pitch. "He did what he should have done to it."
For Bowden, it was his first true test in a pressure situation this season since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday.
"I felt calm, I felt relaxed, I felt like I had the situation under control," Bowden said. "It was just one bad pitch."
The 10th inning also featured a pair of ejections: one for A's outfielder Coco Crisp, who argued balls and strikes, and one for Boston pitching coach John Farrell, who argued A's pinch-hitter Adam Rosales went around on a swing that would have resulted in a strikeout.
Not to mention the balk called on Ramon Ramirez that put Barton in scoring position.
"[Plate umpire Bob Davidson] saw something that nobody else in our dugout saw," manager Terry Francona said.
Kouzmanoff's winner erased a serviceable start from Boston veteran Tim Wakefield, who used 115 pitches to navigate his way through six innings. The ol' knuckleballer gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks while striking out five.
"He was good," Francona said. "His knuckleball was moving all over the place. We had one really tough inning. When Wake pitches, you're going to see stolen bases, passed balls -- that's the way the knuckleball works. It ended up adding up to four runs."
The A's could only muster one rally against Wakefield, but the third-inning binge was an effective one.
After Crisp hit a one-out double, Wakefield walked Barton and hit A's catcher Kurt Suzuki with a pitch to load the bases. Jack Cust then delivered a two-run double down the right-field line, before a passed ball allowed Suzuki to score from third. Kouzmanoff capped off the outburst by hitting a sacrifice fly to center field.
"I wasn't disappointed [in the inning]," Wakefield said. "I made a good pitch to Coco -- he flared it in to right for a double. I made good pitches to Barton -- he ended up walking. [With the count at] 0-2, I threw a really nasty knuckleball that just sailed in and hit Suzuki. That was it."
Oakland's lineup struggled thereafter, as Wakefield and the Boston bullpen combined to retire the next 15 A's in order. Wakefield said he felt like he was always in control of the game on the mound.
"I thought his knuckleball was good tonight," A's second baseman Mark Ellis said. "But I saw him throw a lot more curveballs and fastballs than I've ever seen. It seems like he always pitches pretty good here, anyways. He really mixed it up, and he was throwing the ball well except for that one inning."
Braden labored in his first start since returning from the 15-day disabled list with elbow stiffness, and the Red Sox had his number early. Kevin Youkilis doubled in Marco Scutaro in the first to score the game's initial run, but David Ortiz was tagged out at home on the play.
Boston extended its lead to 4-0 in the second inning, thanks to some defensive miscues by the A's. It all started with Bill Hall's one-out single to right field.
After fielding the ball, A's right fielder Gabe Gross threw a strike to Suzuki at the plate to prevent Cameron from scoring from second. Meanwhile, Hall took a hefty turn at first base and Suzuki tried to nab him, but the throw sailed down the right-field line after Barton and Ellis appeared to have a miscommunication as to who should catch the ball. The errant throw allowed Cameron to waltz home while Hall advanced to second.
Two batters later, Scutaro blooped one into left field and it was misplayed by A's left fielder Rajai Davis, who unsuccessfully dived for the ball. Scutaro picked up a stand-up double as a result, before scoring on a Darnell McDonald double of the left-center-field wall.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but Hall hit an inning-ending ground ball to Ellis. Boston loaded the bases again in the sixth -- this time with just one out -- but A's reliever Michael Wuertz struck out Ortiz before getting Adrian Beltre to end the inning with a groundout.
"Our approach tonight early was really good," Francona said. "The game started out really well -- we didn't tack on."