A's At Home In Opening Loss

Many of the A's felt the two regular-season games at the Tokyo Dome had more of an exhibition feel to them, plus there was some irritation at the fact that the entire Japan trip was focused so much on the Red Sox.

The A's, for instance, were relegated to the visitors' clubhouse, even though the games came off their home schedule and Oakland was considered the home club. The fan support, the publicity, everything centered on Boston. So the team was happy to be back at the Coliseum for Tuesday night's home opener.

"Everyone was like, 'The A's? Who?'" Oakland outfielder Travis Buck said.

"We knew it would be like that going in. The clubhouse thing got a few guys upset -- we were the home team and we were treated like visitors in every aspect. But that was OK with us, because we played our game and we competed well."

Rookie first baseman Daric Barton said before Tuesday's game that he hadn't been nervous in Japan when making his first-ever Opening Night start, but he was a little bit nervous before the home opener.

"It seems more like Opening Day," he said.

"This seems like the home opener, because it wasn't the home opener in Japan, I don't care if you're Oakland or Boston," reliever Alan Embree said.

"It was an awesome experience, but there's something about opening up in a major league ballpark."

RED SOX 2, A'S 1: Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up a solo homer to Jack Cust in the second inning Tuesday, but it was one of only two hits the A's managed off the Boston starter, who retired the final 13 men he faced.

Among the troubles at the plate for Oakland: Daric Barton had had his streak of reaching base in 20 consecutive game to start his career come to an end, and Travis Buck struck out four times. Buck also made a strong throw home in the fifth inning, nearly preventing the Red Sox from scoring their first run off Joe Blanton, but catcher Kurt Suzuki missed Kevin Youkilis, who got under the swipe tag.

Joe Blanton was outstanding, allowing two runs in six strong innings of work. He was stuck with the tough-luck loss.

Other Notes
--3B Eric Chavez was at Oakland's home opener and he will be examined by team orthopedist John Frazier on Wednesday. If Chavez is cleared to begin some activity, the team will come up with a plan for his rehab in the next day or two, according to team trainer Steve Sayles. Chavez, who had lower back surgery in October, was shut down because of back stiffness 10 days ago.

--RHP Chad Gaudin will pitch for High-A Stockton against Sacramento on Wednesday, with a pitch limit of about 80. Gaudin, who is on the disabled list after hip and foot surgery in December, is scheduled to start at Cleveland on April 12. He threw 67 pitches in his last minor league outing.

--RHP Rich Harden on Wednesday must face the same Red Sox lineup he beat the last time out, when he used primarily just his fastball and changeup. Harden said he plans to prepare for the start as he would any other, so apparently he has no plans to mix things up despite the quick rematch. Harden struck out nine Boston hitters in the second game at the Tokyo Dome.

--OF Travis Buck had some shin soreness when he came out of Sunday's game, but he was back in the leadoff spot for the A's home opener. He struck out in all four at-bats Tuesday, but he also made a nice catch, slamming up against the wall on a drive by Jason Varitek in the fifth, and he nearly threw out a runner at the plate in the same inning. Buck is 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts to start the season.

--1B Daric Barton had said when he missed two games over the weekend with left hand soreness that he would be in the lineup for the home opener, and he was, batting third. He went 0-for-4, ending his Oakland record of reaching base in 20 consecutive games to start his career.

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