A's can't play spoilers in Boston

BOSTON -- Thoughts of home surely crept into the heads of A's players before they even boarded their cross-country flight from Boston on Wednesday night.

Their final road trip of the season wrapped up with an 11-6 loss to the Red Sox, who looked postseason-ready in knocking out 17 hits against five Oakland pitchers.

The A's finished just 1-4 on their journey through Cleveland and Boston.

Next on the agenda: a three-game home series beginning Friday with the American League West champion Los Angeles Angels, the third of three consecutive division leaders that the A's close the regular season against.

Before they scatter their separate ways for the offseason, a strong finish over the weekend would suit them nicely.

"Grind 'em out," outfielder Nick Swisher said. "We'll battle the Angels for the last three, then kind of evaluate the season."

In Cleveland, the A's watched the Indians clinch the AL Central crown in front of a raucous crowd. There was a similar good-time vibe rolling through Fenway Park on Wednesday, as Boston's marquee players were firing on all cylinders.

Manny Ramirez, batting No. 2 in the order for the second consecutive day in his return from injury, served up three singles in three at-bats with two RBIs and a run. David Ortiz took aim on the Green Monster for two doubles and two runs. Mike Lowell did the most damage with five RBIs, and leadoff man Dustin Pedroia homered, doubled twice and scored four runs.

"When teams are hot, or headed for the playoffs, every bloop falls in," A's starting pitcher Joe Blanton said. "Every one finds a hole."

It was the final start of the season for Blanton, and it hardly reflected his season as a whole. He went just five innings and gave up five runs on 11 hits, failing to contain the Red Sox despite his offense handing him two separate leads over the first four innings.

Blanton lost his final two starts of 2007 on the heels of winning three in a row. He finished 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA.

"I definitely felt like a better pitcher this year than last year," said Blanton, 26. "I was smarter. I felt like I learned a lot from last year and learned a lot as the season went on this season.

"I'm pretty happy."