A's offense falls silent as Red Sox roll

A's offense falls silent as Red Sox roll

BOSTON -- Milton Bradley was the star of the show in the A's blowout win Friday night at Fenway Park, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and providing the defensive highlight of the game in his first game off the disabled list.

Bradley was the center of attention on Saturday, too, and, just like the game's outcome, this time his performance was a complete 180 from Friday.

A night after exploding for 15 runs to offset All-Star Barry Zito's five ho-hum innings, Oakland's offense was back to its anemic first-half ways, as Curt Schilling and the Red Sox rolled to a 7-0 victory over Dan Haren, who was every bit as average as Zito had been.

As for Bradley, well ... remember that reputation as a hothead that followed him from Cleveland to Los Angeles to Oakland? After six months as a model A's citizen, his infamous temper finally flashed in Beantown.

"He was pretty fired up," fellow A's outfielder Jay Payton said of Bradley, who refused to discuss his night with reporters. "Milton's a fiery guy."

Haren gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk through five frames, and Schilling gave his club its first win of the four-game series with seven innings of two-hit work that featured nine strikeouts.

Bradley, who singled in his first at-bat, had played a role in the Red Sox rally that essentially put the game on ice.

Doubles by Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, and with two on and one out in the third, David Ortiz hit a line drive into Fenway's quirky right-field corner. Bradley appeared fooled by the carom off the curved wall, and the ball rolled a good 40 feet past him as Big Papi lumbered his way to a two-run triple, his first three-bagger in more than a year.

An RBI single by Ramirez and a sacrifice fly by Lowell followed, and given Schilling's history with such leads and the way he was pitching to that point, the game was all but over.

Schilling's career record with at least five runs of support is now 119-4.

"They gave more than enough for Schilling," A's manager Ken Macha said. "He had tremendous command of the ball tonight."

Except for on one pitch. And that was the pitch that set the messy ball in motion.

The incident that incited Bradley was basically a carryover from Friday, when the Red Sox responded to Zito nicking Ortiz on the finger with a high-and-tight fastball by drilling Frank Thomas in the leg.

"They hit Frank because Barry hit this guy in the fingertip?" Macha said. "Come on, let's play baseball."

But with two out and a runner on second in the fifth inning on Saturday, Haren plunked Red Sox captain Jason Varitek in the leg. Haren didn't exactly go out of his way to deny that there was intent behind the pitch.

"I was trying to go in," Haren said. "Not necessarily to hit him, but definitely trying to go in."

In the top of the sixth, with two out and nobody on, Schilling smoked Nick Swisher in the lower back on a 2-0 pitch that left Swisher with a nasty welt -- and the A's in a nasty mood.

"You know it was on purpose," Swisher said. "Everyone in the [entire] stadium knew it was on purpose. If you don't think that was on purpose, you're crazy. ... What's done is done; just put it in the memory bank."

"Obviously, that was on purpose," agreed Haren, who also made it clear that he thought the Red Sox hit Thomas intentionally on Friday. "I thought that was pretty bush-league, but I guess that's the way they do things here."

Home-plate umpire Mike Reilly warned both benches after Swisher was hit, bringing Macha onto the field in protest. And while that discussion was taking place, Bradley was on the top step of the A's dugout, yelling at Schilling, who never responded. Then Bradley turned his attention to some fans seated behind the dugout and verbally engaged them.

"There was a lot of people that were upset. Not just Milton," Macha said. "There was a bunch of people upset. ... I don't know what Milton did. I was out on the field."

"A lot of people were frustrated," confirmed Haren. "There was a lot of anger. ... They're up 5-0 and do that? It was kind of a kick-you-while-you're-down kind of thing."

Bradley eventually made his way back down the steps, but he continued to shout as he paced the length of the dugout until the A's had to take the field again. When they did, Bradley heard it from the fans again. They chanted his last name every time he returned to the dugout thereafter, and they booed him loudly before his eighth-inning at-bat.

Payton, who played for the Red Sox in the first half of last season and was traded to Oakland after he confronted Boston manager Terry Francona about playing time, suggested that if any fan base can get a player's goat, it's the Fenway Faithful.

"They'll say some stuff you don't want to repeat," he offered.

Payton also said he didn't think Bradley was ever close to crossing the line.

"If we see him jumping over the dugout, somebody will grab him," Payton said. "But it wasn't like that. He was fired up, but he was under control."

Despite the ugliness, there was a little good news: the Rangers lost Saturday, too, so the A's remained tied atop the American League West.

But while Macha would prefer everybody turn the page on this one, that doesn't seem likely. Swisher talked about Sunday being a "new day," but when asked if that meant he was saying he didn't expect there to any carryover in the series finale, he answered quickly.

"No. I'm not saying that," he said. "We'll see what happens."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.