Boston (59-38) at Oakland (51-47)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Mon Jul 24, 2006
  • TV: NESN, FSBA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Josh Beckett looks to prove to the Boston Red Sox their $30 million investment was worth it Monday when he tries to avenge one of his worst outings of the season against the Oakland Athletics.

Last Tuesday, Beckett (12-5, 4.78 ERA) signed a three-year, $30 million deal. The next day, he scattered four hits and struck out seven in eight innings of a 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals.

“He pitches good next time he might get a six-year,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona joked after the win. “I think it was pretty easy. He wanted to be here; we wanted him here.”

The Red Sox acquired the 26-year-old right-hander in the offseason in a trade with the Florida Marlins. Beckett, who had gone 15-8 for the Marlins last year but had his season cut short due to shoulder tendinitis, would have been eligible for arbitration following this season had Boston not re-signed him.

“As much as he has accomplished in his career to this point at a young age, we think his best days are ahead of him,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “His best days are going to be pretty special, so we want to make sure that he does that in a Red Sox uniform.”

Despite some uneven starts and giving up 27 homers in 19 starts, Beckett is tied for the AL lead with 12 wins. He is 5-1 in his last six decisions, with the lone loss coming to the Athletics. He was reached for seven runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 15-3 defeat to A’s scheduled starter Barry Zito.

The Red Sox (59-38) lost two of three over the weekend against the Seattle Mariners, including Sunday’s finale 9-8. Boston, which squandered a 7-5 lead, rallied to tie the game 8-all on a homer by Jason Varitek, but Mariners first baseman Richie Sexson hit a walk-off homer in the ninth off Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin for the win.

“There was a lot of trading of momentum throughout that game,” Varitek said. “All in all, what it comes down to is, we got beat.”

The Red Sox, who lead the AL East by 2 1/2 games over the New York Yankees, lost three of four in their against the Athletics at Fenway in their first series after the All-Star break.

Oakland (51-47) lost 8-4 to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday in the deciding game of its series. The Athletics committed three errors, and starter Esteban Loaiza was tagged for eight runs—five earned—in three innings.

The A’s, though, completed a 10-game road trip with a winning record at 6-4.

“You hate to end a trip with sloppy play, but I’m happy that we’re swinging the bats better,” A’s manager Ken Macha said.

Zito (10-6, 3.20) is looking to win his third consecutive start after losing his previous three. In his last start against the Baltimore Orioles, the left-hander allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of a 5-1 win Wednesday.

He is 4-4 with a 4.52 ERA in 11 starts against Boston and was efficient in defeating Beckett and the Red Sox on July 14, allowing two runs in five innings.

Oakland leads Texas by one-half game in the AL West.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Beckett LAD vs. B. Zito Oak
16-11 Record 16-10
5.01 ERA 3.83
158 K 151
74 BB 99
1.29 WHIP 1.40