OAKLAND -- Don't look now, but the A's have re-entered the realm of relevancy.
With a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday to secure a three-game series sweep, Oakland moved to just one game below the .500 mark for the first time since May 23, with three contests to play against the Mariners before the start of the All-Star break.
Just don't remind them of that.
"All that is is a 50-50 record," first baseman Brandon Moss said. "If you're looking to get to .500 or a certain amount of wins as a team, usually it's not going to get you anywhere. You play the best you can through the end of the season, then look up and see where your record's at. We're just trying to play good baseball."
"We just need to win every game we can right now," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "I think the gap that we have right now, if we want to have any chance to compete come September, we need to win them all. We need to win every game. I like the way we're playing. That's the big thing. I think we're a team that can hang with anyone. It's a matter of putting it all together. I like where we are right now."
Even manager Bob Melvin, though mindful of his club's push to surpass the hump with a 19-12 record over the last 31 games following a season-high nine-game losing streak, is careful not to place too much focus on it.
"Five hundred is really, for me, a place you get to, but you have to set your goals even higher once you get there," he said. "If .500 is what you're planning on what you want to do, then you're going to stall out at that point. I really think, though, that what we're trying to do here is win games, count them up at the end and try to play our best on a particular day. I don't want us to get too caught up in the future and what the next several games could mean."
In reality, they could place the A's within striking distance of the second Wild Card berth heading into the second half of the season. The idea isn't so far-fetched considering the starting pitching staff with which the A's are equipped, along with a surging offense that has the ability to provide just enough support.
Without much fanfare, Oakland's modestly superb group of starters has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 18 of the last 20 games for a 1.89 ERA over that span. Right-hander A.J. Griffin helped that cause by surrendering just one earned run over six innings Wednesday, and the rookie now has only three earned runs and eight hits to his name spanning 18 frames in three starts.
Griffin offered up only three hits -- David Ortiz's fourth-inning homer, marking the 400th of his career, represented his only earned run -- and walked two with three strikeouts.
"Got to be happy with it," Griffin said. "Just took a big series from the Red Sox. It was fun. Got to see Bartolo [Colon] go out there and Jarrod [Parker] go out there and do work, and it was my turn today, and I just wanted to sort of follow in their footsteps and just keep up the trend of the pitching that we've been doing lately."
Having departed Texas on Sunday on the heels of three heartbreaking losses in four games to their division foes, the A's seemingly had reason to play the part of the dejected as the Red Sox came to town.
But they looked anything but, as evidenced all three days of the series, the last of which saw them tally 10 hits. Moss led the way against his former team with a three-hit day, including a second-inning home run -- his 10th in 24 games with the A's -- and a double in the sixth, when he scored on Inge's two-bagger.
"Obviously playing against a team you came up with and played your first game in the big leagues, it's special," Moss said. "And you want to do well, but not out of animosity, but to show, 'Hey, you did draft a good player.' To contribute like that in a series where the games were so tight, it definitely feels good."
Jemile Weeks' RBI single in the seventh, which followed a leadoff triple off the bat of the red-hot Coco Crisp, gave the A's the go-ahead run, as Boston concluded its seven-game road trip 2-5 and with only one more win than its counterpart for the season.
"We've fought back to get to where we are right now," Melvin said. "We're playing a lot of games that are testing us, and I think in the end we're going to be better for it. The spectrum has been such a roller coaster. We've had six walk-off wins and been walked-off so many times. At one point in time, you have to realize that we're going to play these type of games, and you have to move on from the ones that hurt you a little bit. I think it makes you tougher when you come back and win one, and to come back and sweep these guys was big for us."