Beckett to battle Athletics in Oakland

Beckett to battle Athletics in Oakland

In a matchup that might be seen again in October, the Red Sox and Athletics, leaders of their respective divisions, square off on Monday night for the first of a three-game series at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland.

The pitching matchup is equally enticing with Boston's Josh Beckett taking on A's ace Barry Zito.

The Red Sox hope to have a better result than on July 14, when those two men matched up and the A's rolled to a 15-3 romp at Fenway.

"Most teams would probably agree, when you face a pitcher and you hit him well, it means most of the hitters are going to have confidence going into the game," said A's outfielder Bobby Kielty. "I think we'll have a mental edge in that fact, but anything can happen in baseball. Beckett's a great pitcher. He knows how to pitch. He throws really hard, and he's got great stuff."

Beckett also has a little more security than the last time he faced Oakland. Last week, following a 1-0 victory over the Royals, the Red Sox signed Beckett to a three-year extension.

"I'm happy here," said Beckett. "These are the greatest fans in the world. It was a deal where it gives me security, and that's always a big thing, but it was also because I wanted to stay here and play in front of these fans and at [Fenway]."

The Red Sox hope for better results in Oakland then they got in Seattle, where they lost two out of three to the Mariners. Sunday's loss was a heartbreaker, as Boston tied the game in the top of the ninth on a homer by Jason Varitek, only to lose it on a walkoff homer by Richie Sexson in the bottom of the inning.

The best news for Boston entering this series is that closer Jonathan Papelbon is well-rested after not pitching the last four days.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (12-5, 4.78)
After his best outing in a Red Sox uniform -- and with a new three-year contract extension in tow -- Josh Beckett heads to the mound against Oakland in the opener of a three-game series. Beckett will look for revenge against the only team to beat him at Fenway this season. Oakland roughed him up for eight hits and seven earned runs over 4 1/3 innings on July 14.

OAK: LHP Barry Zito (10-6, 3.20)
Zito was brilliant in his Wednesday start against the Orioles. Oakland's ace faced three batters over the minimum in the first six innings. Zito gave up the lone O's run on former A's catcher Ramon Hernandez's full-count RBI single in the seventh inning.

Player to watch
Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has a history of success against Zito, going 8-for-21 with three doubles and a homer against the Oakland ace.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 12-3, 3.50) at Athletics (RHP Jason Windsor, 0-0, 1.80), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 2-1, 7.03) at Athletics (RHP Dan Haren, 6-9, 4.02), 3:35 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.