OAKLAND, Calif. -- With a handful of ailing teammates back home in Boston and one in the hospital, Curt Schilling had a tough time celebrating his latest pitching feat.
The Boston ace became the 14th pitcher in major-league history to reach 3,000 strikeouts Wednesday when he fanned Oakland's Nick Swisher in the first inning of the Red Sox's 7-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
"It's very bittersweet," Schilling said after Boston lost its sixth straight game and 12th in 14. "This definitely was a day when this team needed a chance to step up, and I didn't. When 14 people in the history of the game have done it, that makes me proud to have achieved it. But going through what we're going through and doing what I did today kind of sucks a lot of the enjoyment out of it -- most of it, if not all of it."
The 39-year-old Schilling allowed a leadoff double to Jason Kendall before getting Swisher swinging for the milestone strikeout. His accomplishment was announced and Schilling received a lengthy ovation. He stepped off the mound and tipped his hat, his wife, Shonda, and children watching from nearby in the stands.
He appreciated the fans' reaction.
"Hats off to the Oakland A's for recognizing it. I'm very humbled by the fact their fans recognized it and the Sox fans who were here," Schilling said. "You certainly don't expect it on the road. It was kind of uncomfortable because there's a game going on and you want to acknowledge the people but you don't want to make it bigger than the situation. ... I was honored they did that. It was a very, very classy thing to do."
Barry Zito, Oakland's starter, certainly noticed.
"It's impressive," Zito said of Schilling's total. "I felt like it gave him some momentum because he punched out another. I was like, 'Chill out, fans. Give him his respect but don't get him all fired up.'"
Schilling gave way to Mike Timlin after Kendall's RBI single in the sixth gave the Athletics a 5-1 lead. The right-hander, facing fellow 14-game winner Zito, struck out four in 5 1/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and six runs and walking one while throwing 108 pitches.
Swisher has struck out six times against Schilling, who has fanned 860 different batters in his 19-year big league career. Only once previously has a 3,000th strikeout been recorded in August, by Bert Blyleven on Aug. 1, 1986. Schilling has 552 lifetime strikeouts in the month of August.