Colorado (32-33) at Boston (41-23)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 14, 2007
  • TV: FSRM, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The AL East title is starting to look like less than a sure thing for the Boston Red Sox, but Josh Beckett has been a sure thing for them all season.

The right-hander tries to run his record to 10-0 as the Red Sox wrap up their three-game set with the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night at Fenway Park.

Despite a May stint on the disabled list due to blister problems, Beckett (9-0, 2.88 ERA) has been dominant in his second season in the American League. By winning his first nine decisions, he is tied for the fifth-best start to a season in Red Sox history, and is off to the best start by a Boston pitcher since Roger Clemens opened a club-record 14-0 in 1986.

Beckett is also unbeaten in his career versus the Rockies, going 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA in five starts while with Florida.

He earned his ninth win of 2007 - and his first of the year in interleague play - on Friday, when he gave up two earned runs and five hits over eight innings of a 10-3 victory at Arizona. He struck out eight without issuing a walk.

“I’m on a great team,” said Beckett, who has received an average of 8.8 runs of support in his starts. “I can’t take all the credit for being 9-0. These guys have done an unbelievable job behind me.”

However, the once-sizzling Boston bats have cooled recently. Friday’s win was the only game in the last 10 in which the Red Sox scored more than five runs. After beating Colorado 2-1 in Tuesday night’s series opener, Boston got routed 12-2 on Wednesday.

Although the Red Sox (41-23) still own baseball’s best record, they are 5-8 in their last 13 games. Their lead over the Yankees in the AL East was 14 1/2 games on May 29, but has shrunk to 8 1/2 as New York has won eight in a row.

Colorado (32-33), meanwhile, has won three of its last four contests and 14 of 20. With a win Thursday, the Rockies can return to the .500 mark for the first time since they were 5-5 on April 13.

Todd Helton drove in four runs Wednesday, and right fielder Brad Hawpe hit a three-run homer off Curt Schilling in the fifth inning to break the game open.

“I’m more worried about going up there looking for strikes and not worried about who you’re facing,” said Hawpe, who is batting .396 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in Rockies victories this season.

Jeff Francis (5-5, 3.81) has played a big role in Colorado’s resurgence, going 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA and a .201 opponents batting average over his last seven starts. He also has thrown at least seven innings in eight straight outings - the longest streak among NL pitchers.

The left-hander, though, had his four-decision winning streak snapped Friday at Baltimore, as he gave up four runs over seven innings of a 4-2 defeat.

Francis has never faced the Red Sox.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Francis Tor vs. J. Beckett LAD
17-9 Record 20-7
4.22 ERA 3.27
165 K 194
63 BB 40
1.38 WHIP 1.14

Scoreboard

Thursday, Jun 14