BOSTON -- Daric Barton didn't bat and barely got on the field. He still made the game-saving play.
Yoenis Cespedes drove in the go-ahead run on an infield single with the bases loaded in the 10th and Barton, playing first, cut down the potential tying run at third in the bottom of the inning as the Athletics averted a three-game sweep with a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
"He made a terrific play," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "That's a gutsy play. That's a play that if the runner gets over, they can win the game with a hit. A gutsy play."
With Barton playing in, guarding for a bunt, Jackie Bradley Jr. bounced it to first. Barton fired to third, cutting down Middlebrooks.
"My whole goal was obviously to get the guy at third whether it was a bunt or a ground ball to me," Barton said. "It feels good. I've learned to be ready. Anything can happen at any time, but I've learned to be ready when they call my name and go out there and do my job."
Barton came in when Josh Reddick left with a sprained ankle in the ninth.
Middlebrooks was somewhat surprised and impressed by the play.
"I was breaking off the bat. I didn't know it was to his right, to his left or right at him. Unfortunately it was right at him," he said. "This is the big leagues. People are supposed to make plays like that. Normally you don't see a first baseman that far in, but he made a good play. Hats off to him."
Oakland closed a 10-game road trip 5-5 and avoided its second three-game sweep in its last four series. The Athletics were swept at home by Texas April 21-23.
"Barton makes a heck of a heads-up play to cut down Will going to third," Boston manager John Farrell said. "They're playing in. He's got to trust in his abilities. He throws a strike across the diamond to cut down Will."
A.J. Pierzynski hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who failed to reach .500 for the first time since the fourth game of the season.
Johnson also got a double-play grounder by Jonny Gomes to end the ninth.
With the Red Sox trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Pierzynski homered into Boston's bullpen. It could have been worse for the Athletics when right fielder Reddick had trouble with pinch hitter Gomes' fly ball in the wind. He was charged with an error, allowing runners to reach second and third with one out. But reliever Fernando Abad got Bradley Jr. out at first on his attempted safety squeeze and Luke Gregerson retired Pedroia.
Boston starter John Lackey gave up two runs on five hits in six innings, walking three and striking out four.
Oakland's Sonny Gray also pitched six, giving up two runs and six hits, walking two with three strikeouts.
Cespedes gave Oakland a 2-1 edge in the sixth with an RBI double off the Green Monster. The Athletics grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Brandon Moss' two-out RBI single.
Grady Sizemore's RBI double tied it in the fifth, but Gray escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam when Bradley bounced into a 1-2-3 double play.
In the third, Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts' relay from shallow left cut down Donaldson trying to score. Crew chief Jeff Kellogg requested a replay review to see if catcher Pierzynski was illegally blocking the plate. Replays showed he moved his foot and blocked the corner just before he caught the throw, knocking Donaldson's foot away as it attempted to reach home. The play was upheld.
Melvin challenged a call on the first pitch of the game -- when Crisp was called out on a 5-6-3 grounder. Replays were ruled inconclusive.
Reddick limped off after grounding into a DP. ... Boston DH David Ortiz played in his 1,999th career game. ... The Athletics open a 10-game homestand Monday when left-hander Scott Kazmir (4-0, 2.11 ERA) faces Seattle right-hander Chris Young (1-0, 3.04). ... The Red Sox are off Monday before beginning a two-game series on Tuesday against Cincinnati when lefty Felix Doubront (1-3, 5.70) goes against the Reds' Homer Bailey (2-2, 5.50). ... Sizemore went 2 for 2 before being pinch hit for, raising his career average to .321 (59 of 184) against the A's, his best against any AL team.