The Red Sox look to continue getting back on track Friday night when they open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Boston (38-21) owns baseball’s best record and a 10-game lead over Toronto in the AL East, but needed Schilling’s heroics Thursday to halt a season-high four-game losing streak. Schilling, who helped pitch the Diamondbacks to their only World Series title in 2001, allowed a single with two outs in the ninth inning to break up his no-hit bid, then completed a one-hitter as the Red Sox defeated Oakland 1-0.
“It was fun,” said Schilling, who improved to 4-0 when pitching after a Boston loss this season. “It was 1-0 the whole day, so that kind of alleviates thinking about anything else. In a 1-0 game, you’re trying to stay away from a tie.”
David Ortiz’s solo home run in the first inning provided the only offense for Boston, which totaled only three runs and 15 hits in the last three games of its four-game set with Oakland.
After his team bounced back, Beckett (8-0, 2.95 ERA) is looking to rebound from a rare subpar outing. The right-hander failed to receive a decision in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees, when he allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
With a victory Friday, Beckett can join the Indians’ C.C. Sabathia and the Angels’ John Lackey as the only pitchers in the majors with nine wins. He is also seeking to become the sixth pitcher in Red Sox history to open a season 9-0.
Beckett is 0-3 with a 6.97 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks (36-25), although he has not faced them since he was with the Florida Marlins in 2004. In fact, no position player on Arizona’s active roster has ever batted against Beckett.
Boston is 30-9 in interleague play since the start of 2005, and won two of three games against the Atlanta Braves last month. However, the Diamondbacks swept the only previous series between these clubs - a three-game set at Fenway Park in 2002, when Schilling earned the win in the middle game.
Arizona suffered just its second lost in the last 13 games Thursday night, falling 5-4 in 11 innings against the San Francisco Giants and failing to complete a three-game sweep. The defeat dropped the Diamondbacks one game behind first-place San Diego in the NL West.
Eric Byrnes had three hits in the loss to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He is batting .407 (24-for-59) with three homers during the run.
Arizona’s Doug Davis (4-6, 3.05) takes the mound looking to win his third straight start.
After losing four consecutive decisions, Davis has allowed just two runs over a combined 15 2-3 innings during his last two outings. He gave up one run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings on Sunday against the New York Mets, striking out six in the 4-1 win.
The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in five appearances - four starts - against the Red Sox. He last faced them is 2003, while with Toronto, but remembers them enough to be wary of the assignment.
“That’s not a team that I can just throw one pitch again,” he told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site.
This is Arizona’s first interleague series this season. The Diamondbacks are just 12-21 against AL opponents over the last two years.