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HOU@OAK: Griffin fans eight Astros over six innings

The entire baseball community was consumed by the recent events in Boston, and that includes the Red Sox's next opponent.

"There has been so much that's happened in the last week that will make it different," Oakland pitcher A.J. Griffin said about his impending start on Monday evening.

Griffin will be tasked with harnessing his emotions as he toes the rubber at Fenway Park against AL East-leading Boston. The 25-year-old has been stellar on the mound this season, submitting a quality start in each of his three outings.

Across 20 innings, Griffin (2-0) has compiled a 2.25 ERA, having yielded five runs on 16 hits. Even on a day he didn't have his typically sharp command, Griffin limited Houston to two runs in six frames his last time out.

"I don't know that I've been more proud of him than today," A's skipper Bob Melvin said after the outing. "One thing you can count on is his command all the time. He was really fighting himself. You could see it for a while. Then after the third he just decided, 'You know what, I'm starting over and going to make my pitches and be confident.' Then all of a sudden he gives us six innings that we needed. It was quite a turnaround for an outing that we really hadn't seen out of him before."

Following an emotional weekend set against the Royals -- the teams played three times in two days -- the Red Sox will turn to southpaw Felix Doubront for Monday's series opener.

Doubront started last Tuesday's game against Cleveland, the first contest following the attacks at the Boston Marathon. The left-hander allowed two runs in five innings while picking up his first win of the season, as he escaped a bases-loaded jam in his final frame.

"Minimizing the damage was important," Doubront said. "That inning was tough for me. I was thinking: Just one pitch away and throw the pitch and whatever happens."

A's: Cespedes nearing return
The A's are continuing to monitor the progress of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is recovering from a hand injury. He could return from the disabled list as early as next Sunday.

"So far, so good," Melvin said. "If all goes well, he'll hit coaches BP in Boston. Once we get him in a live BP situation, we'll see where we stand."

• Closer Grant Balfour has converted each of his last 21 saves, which is tied for the third-longest streak in A's history. His last blown save came on April 29, 2012.

Red Sox: Starter streak snapped
Red Sox starters had allowed three total runs or fewer in all 16 games this year, the club's longest ever such streak to begin a season (previously nine in 1916), prior to Ryan Dempster giving up four in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only two other teams in American League history went at least 16 games into a season without their starting pitchers allowing more than three runs in a game: the 1978 and 1981 A's (both 16 games). Boston started another streak in the second game of the twin bill, when Allen Webster gave up three runs (two earned) in Boston's 5-4 loss in 10 innings.

• It might only take one Minor League rehab start before John Lackey returns to the Red Sox's rotation. Lackey, on the disabled list with a strained right biceps, is expected to throw about four innings or 65 pitches in a start for Double-A Portland on Monday.

"If he comes out of [Monday's start] as he came out of his bullpen [on Friday], we may be looking at just one start," said Boston manager John Farrell.

Worth noting
• The Federal Communications Commission announced it had no problem with David Ortiz saying an expletive during a heartfelt speech prior to Saturday's game against Kansas City.

• Oakland claimed eight of its nine meetings with Boston last season, outscoring the Red Sox, 60-26. Comments