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BOS@CWS: Bard allows just two runs over seven frames

Run support hasn't come easy or often for Oakland right-hander Brandon McCarthy, and Boston's Daniel Bard can certainly understand the feeling.

The Red Sox plated nine runs of support over Bard's seven innings of work Friday, but he had received only one run of support in his previous 11 2/3 innings to start the season. The A's have given McCarthy three runs or fewer in five of his six starts, and his run-support average of 2.77 on the season is the seventh lowest in the American League.

Both picked up their first wins of the season in their most recent outings, and they'll be looking for more of the same Wednesday in the rubber match between the A's and Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"Anytime we can go out and get a few [runs] early, and hopefully the pitcher does his job, it kind of makes the game move faster and puts you in a positive mindset early," McCarthy said after his last start.

One thing McCarthy will have working for him Wednesday is his history against the AL East. He's 7-0 with a 3.50 ERA in 12 starts against the division since 2009, though none of those outings have come against Boston. In fact, his last loss to an AL East team came against the Red Sox back on Sept. 7, 2008. In all, he's 1-3 with a 6.29 ERA in seven career games (four starts) against Boston.

Bard, meanwhile, found nothing but success against the A's as a reliever. He owns a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings vs. Oakland for his career, his lowest mark against any Major League club (minimum five innings pitched).

Bard earned his first career victory as a starter Friday, when the Red Sox beat the White Sox, 10-3, on the road. That came on the heels of a relief victory on April 23 at Minnesota, making him the first Boston pitcher to win back-to-back appearances, with the first in relief and second as a starter, since John Burkett in 2003.

"I know it's been said over and over, but I do feel like I've gotten better with each outing, going back to the spring," Bard said after his last start. "I've gotten more comfortable with throwing offspeed in fastball counts, I'm more consistently throwing strike one with my fastball, which tonight was huge for me. So [it's] just a combination of things. I'm just learning the nuances of starting. Tonight was -- I feel -- like a step in the right direction.

"I was just comfortable throwing my fastball for strikes, that's as simple as it was. Just early in the count, late in the count, I was getting it in, and to be honest, these nights are good nights to pitch once you're loose and once you kind of beat the cold, hitters don't like hitting in this weather, so you kind of use that to your advantage."

A's: Crisp expected to return Wednesday
• Outfielder Coco Crisp was out of the lineup Tuesday due to a sinus infection, but he should be back on the field Wednesday before resting on Thursday's off-day.

"He's had a tough little go," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's a pretty good sinus infection. With the weather on top of that, I just couldn't run him out there today. He didn't fight me on it. He normally fights me, but this time not as much as usual. My feeling is it's probably the right thing to do today."

• Kila Ka'aihue has earned more at-bats and more starts at first base lately, taking away opportunities from Daric Barton, considered the everyday first baseman when he returned from the disabled list April 9.

"It's a tough one right now," Melvin said. "To this point, Kila's had the better at-bats. He really has swung the bat well for a guy you didn't envision being in this spot right now. We really look for Daric to get a little more comfortable here and try to get him some matchups to get his confidence up and get him going. It's kind of a day-to-day thing with those two right now."

Red Sox: Boston monitoring banged-up Youk
• Kevin Youkilis was unavailable for the third straight game Tuesday night due to an injured back, and the Red Sox will continue to evaluate him before deciding whether he needs to go to the disabled list.

"I can't tell," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I was with him today in the training room. There are times where it's pretty sore [with] different movements. He's doing everything he can in the training room."

• To add some depth in the infield, the Red Sox called up highly touted prospect Jose Iglesias on Tuesday, optioning right-hander Junichi Tazawa to Triple-A Pawtucket to clear a roster spot. Iglesias might not stay in the Majors long this time around.

But if Youkilis is out for any extended period of time, Iglesias can start at shortstop with Mike Aviles moving to third base. Boston could also choose to call up another promising prospect, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, to fill in for Youkilis.

Worth noting
• The A's have scored seven runs or less in each game this season and in 41 straight contests dating back to last year -- the longest such streak in Oakland history.

• The Red Sox and Yankees announced on Tuesday that their April 22 rainout in Boston will be made up as the opener of a day-night doubleheader on July 7 at Fenway Park. Comments