OAKLAND -- Scott Kazmir hasn't made the American League All-Star team since 2008, but it's hard to fathom that he won't end that drought this year.
As if Kazmir's numbers aren't worthy enough upon quick glance, the A's left-hander showed John Farrell, the Boston skipper who will be managing the A.L. All-Stars, why he belongs. Save one mistake to longtime nemesis Dustin Pedroia, Kazmir thoroughly stifled Farrell's Red Sox on Thursday night in a 4-2 Oakland victory before 24,371 at the Coliseum.
Kazmir, now 9-2 with a 2.08 ERA, didn't walk a batter and struck out eight over seven innings as the 45-28 A's won their third straight and fifth in six games to build a season-best six-game lead in the A.L. West.
Considering his long road back from a near career derailment in 2012, Kazmir admitted making the All-Star team would be a pleasing accomplishment. But he has loftier goals.
"It would mean a lot, it would," he said. "At the same time, there's only really one thing on my mind. That's getting to the postseason and going as deep as we can. I feel like we have the team to do it. We just have to stay healthy and stay focused."
Kazmir sailed through the first five innings, allowing just two hits and no runs, and had retired nine straight before Brock Holt laced a one-out single to left in the sixth. After Kazmir struck out Xander Bogaerts, Pedroia hit a long fly to left that just got over the wall for a two-run homer. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes leapt high above the wall to try to snare the ball, but it skipped off his glove over the fence.
The home run ended a Kazmir string of 181/3 innings without allowing an earned run. But if anyone was going to get Kazmir on this night, it figured it might be Pedroia, who is now 19 for 38 lifetime against the lefty with two homers.
"It was a (changeup to a location) we went a couple times the at-bat before," said Kazmir. "I had a good feeling he was really looking toward that location, and I just left a pitch up. He put a good swing on it."
But that's all Boston would get. Kazmir struck out Mike Napoli for the third time to end the sixth, then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to end yet another sterling performance. Setup man Luke Gregerson continued his hot run with a 1-2-3 eighth and Dan Otero earned his first career save with a scoreless ninth.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin is running out of superlatives for his new veteran ace.
"No new answers ... same game," Melvin said. "Really one changeup that was up, got a little too close to Pedroia. Other than that, the mix of pitches, the plus and minus on the fastball, in and out, it's been terrific. It's a broken record talking about him because we're seeing basically the same game out of him."
Oakland chipped away slowly against veteran Boston starter Jake Peavy (1-5) in building a 3-0 lead. They scratched for a single run in the second on a Stephen Vogt RBI ground out, and Cespedes' 14th homer of the year gave the A's a 2-0 lead in the third. Vogt struck again with a two-out bloop RBI single in the fourth, giving him 10 RBIs in 14 games since his call-up.
"I feel like I've just kept in stride with the way I was going in Sac (Triple-A Sacramento)," said Vogt, who also made a sensational sliding catch in foul territory in the first. "Since coming back, I've been feeling pretty good, so I hope to keep riding it."
The 29-year Otero, stepping in for regular closer Sean Doolittle, who had worked the two previous games, was happy to get his first save.
"Obviously, it's a personal milestone to get that first one," Otero said. "More importantly, it was a big win against the defending World Series champions."
Asked his reaction to being acquired by the A's for a mere $1, Mills said, "I thought it was a joke, but whatever they had to do to make it official, I'm all for. I don't take it as a value of my worth as a baseball player."
at A's Brad Mills (0-0), 7:05 p.m., CSNCA
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