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Red Sox 7, Athletics 4: Sox sweep Athletics with seven-run eighth

It took a while, but the Red Sox finally have a sweep to their name.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Red Sox turned a disappointing loss into a surprise win and series sweep of the Athletics Sunday afternoon with a huge eighth inning that saw the Sox put up seven runs on eight hits against five different Oakland pitchers.

For seven innings, the lineup was doing its usual thing behind Clay Buchholz. Which is to say it was doing nothing. For four straight Buchholz starts, the Red Sox had scored exactly one run, forcing perfection from him if he wanted any chance at a win.

In fact, this time they hadn't even managed the one run, despite their fair share of opportunities. Brock Holt made an out on the basepaths in the first right ahead of a Hanley Ramirez double. A line drive right to Brett Lawrie at third had left Pablo Sandoval and Sandy Leon stranded in scoring position in the second. And the third saw a pair of leadoff singles lead into only a Hanley Ramirez double play. Somehow the Sox had crammed seven baserunners into three innings without scoring once.

What's worse, Buchholz wasn't perfect. In fact, he was far from it. In the first legitimately poor start he's produced in over a month, Buchholz failed to so much as escape the fifth. It wasn't that he didn't have anything, or that he couldn't locate. He just made a few too many serious mistake pitches, and was punished for them. He also didn't get a ton of help defensively. The Athletics put two men on to start the second, and had one score when Mark Canha lifted a fly ball to right. It was a pitch that was both higher and further over the plate than the Red Sox intended, and with a little more distance it could have been a home run in Fenway Park. But with the ball staying in the park, and staying up, Brock Holt probably should have been able to make the catch had he not been hesitant in approaching the wall.

Instead, it was a one-run double, with a second run coming in shortly thereafter on a wild pitch. Eric Sogard would make it 3-0 on a solid hit to right field, taking an inning that probably could have been just one run and turning it into a louder three-spot.

The Athletics weren't completely done, either. A pair of doubles gave them a fourth run to start the fourth, and when Buchholz proceeded to load the bases by surrendering a walk and infield single without an out on the board, the Sox seemed set for a disaster inning. But right when the game was about to get away from him, Buchholz turned in two big strikeouts of Marcus Semien and Stephen Vogt, keeping the Sox in the game with an inning-ending ground ball from Billy Butler.

Still, with the bats completely quiet, it seemed that Houdini act would go completely to waste, as would 3.1 scoreless innings of work from Steven Wright in his return to the long relief act. Then came the eighth, when Rusney Castillo led off with a solo shot into the Monster seats to put the Red Sox on the board. It was almost comical that they had seen fit to give Clay Buchholz his traditional run with the game looking largely out of reach.

Only the rally continued. After going completely quiet from the fourth inning on, the Red Sox offense exploded when Castillo's homer brought the bullpen into the game. Evan Scribner quickly gave up three ground ball singles, scoring a second run and putting Brock Holt at third, where David Ortiz was able to score him with a sacrifice fly off Drew Pomeranz. It seemed like the rally might end up simply bringing the Sox within one as Mike Napoli struck out swinging against Tyler Clippard, already the fourth pitcher of the inning for the Athletics, but Pablo Sandoval singled to keep the inning alive, and Xander Bogaerts came up with the big hit: a wall ball double that just barely stayed out of the Monster seats, bringing two runs in and flipping the one-run deficit into a one-run lead.

The necessary damage had been done, but the Sox still had one out to work with, and before they recorded it, Alejandro De Aza made it 6-4 with a single to right, and Rusney Castillo completed the rally he started by knocking De Aza in to make it a three-run lead. Pat Venditte finally came in to end the inning, but that just left three outs to go, with Tommy Layne of all people coming in to wrap up an easy ninth with two strikeouts and a fly ball.