(Sports Network) - Matching last season's win total shouldn't be a problem for the Oakland Athletics Friday, as they begin a three-game series versus the struggling Boston Red Sox at the Coliseum.
The Athletics missed the playoffs with a 74-88 record a year ago and have turned things around tremendously in 2012. Owners of the top Wild Card spot in the American League, the A's have won six in a row and 12 of their last 14 games, including Thursday's 12-7 outburst against Cleveland in the finale of a four-game series.
Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Josh Donaldson and Cliff Pennington all homered and George Kottaras ended with three RBI for Oakland, which is still within striking distance of Texas for the AL West lead at four games back.
"It was a huge win against a team we really needed to take a series from," Reddick said. "We had a great opportunity to move up in the standings with a team we played well against all year. We did just that. It's one big confidence boost."
Jarrod Parker benefited from the run support to pick up the win and was reached for five runs and eight hits in five innings.
The A's, who will also host the Angels on their homestand, are averaging nine runs over their last three games.
Brandon McCarthy draws the start for Oakland tonight and ended a three-game winless drought (0-2) in Saturday's 4-2 win at Tampa Bay with seven strikeouts over seven innings of two-run ball. McCarthy is 7-2 in his last nine decisions and 7-5 with a 3.12 earned run average in 16 starts this season.
The right-hander defeated the Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 2 and is 2-3 with a 5.23 ERA in eight games (5 starts) lifetime against them.
Boston was swept in three games by the LA Angels of Anaheim for the second in almost 10 days and suffered a 5-2 loss in Thursday's series finale.
Jon Lester went the distance in a losing effort and allowed nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
James Loney homered for the first time in a Red Sox uniform and was acquired from Los Angeles in the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Loney ended with three hits and Mike Aviles went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Boston, losers in eight of 11 games.
"We hit the balls hard, but the outfielders were in the right spot," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "James Loney did well. We just didn't follow him up tonight."
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, the 2008 AL MVP, extended his hitting streak to 10 games last night.
Aaron Cook gets the nod for Valentine's club tonight and is just 3-7 with a 4.76 earned run average in his first 12 starts with Boston. He is 1-6 in his previous seven decisions and did not factor in the outcome of a 10-9 loss to Kansas City, as he pitched well in giving up three runs over six innings.
Cook lost to the Athletics on July 4 -- one start after a two-hit shutout of Seattle on June 29 -- and is 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in three career starts against them. The right-hander is 1-3 in four road outings this season.
The A's have won five of six matchups with Boston this season, including the past five meetings between the ballclubs. The Red Sox were 6-2 in the season series a year ago.