Aís earn split in Japan
By Jim Armstrong
TOKYO ó Split two games, get back on a plane.
Rich Harden struck out nine over six innings and Emil Brown hit a three-run homer, leading the Oakland Athletics to a 5-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night in the finale of their season-opening series in Japan.
iLast night we lost a heartbreaker. We won tonight. Now everyoneís looking forward to getting back to the Bay Area and recovering,î Oakland manager Bob Geren said.
Boston began its World Series title defense by winning Tuesdayís opener 6-5 in 10 innings after rallying in the ninth. The Red Sox headed to Los Angeles after Wednesdayís game for three more exhibitions against the Dodgers, including one at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday.
iWeíll take a step back tomorrow and have an optional workout,î manager Terry Francona said. iWe tried to do our homework on what to expect from travel. Weíre not going to talk ourselves into being tired, and weíll do what we need to do to get ready for the next start in Oakland.î
Harden (1-0) helped the Aís gain something from the trip. He is coming back from three injury-plagued seasons, and he made just four starts last year ó none after July 7. This time, the right-hander allowed three hits and three walks, throwing 95 pitches.
iI had some bad luck the past couple of years,î Harden said. iBut hopefully, I can put that behind me and do what I need to do to help the ballclub this season.î
Oakland built a 4-0 lead against Jon Lester (0-1) while Harden shut down the Red Sox. He allowed his only run in the sixth on a homer by Manny Ramirez, who struck out in his first two at-bats.
David Ortiz was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a walk against Harden. Coming in, Ortiz was 4-for-5 against Harden, and Ramirez was 2-for-3, each homering twice.
Oakland went ahead in the second inning of this one when Bobby Crosby doubled and scored on Chris Denorfiaís single. Brown made it 4-0 with a three-run homer in the third.
iItís a great opportunity for me,î said Brown.
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