On Saturday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox won their first game in a week.
Now, they have a chance to win their third game in a span of 24 hours.
Boston had lost four straight games - all on the road - entering this series. The wait to snap the skid became unusually long, as Friday’s opener of this series was postponed due to rain following Thursday’s scheduled travel day.
The rainout became part of a day-night doubleheader Saturday, and the Red Sox (26-19) bounced back with a twinbill sweep of the Brewers (20-23). Mike Lowell homered and had four RBIs to lead the Red Sox to a 7-6 win in the nightcap.
In the day game, Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 6 2-3 solid innings to improve to 7-0 as Boston won 5-3, but afterward Matsuzaka denied he’s becoming the staff ace.
“I want to keep winning,” he said through an interpreter. “But I think Boston’s ace is Josh Beckett.”
However, Beckett (4-3, 4.21 ERA) hasn’t pitched like an ace consistently this season. The right-hander has struggled at times after winning a career-high 20 games in 2007.
In Tuesday’s 5-4 loss at Baltimore, he gave up five runs and 11 hits—the most by a Boston starter this season—in 5 2-3 innings.
“The loss definitely goes in the right man’s hand tonight,” Beckett said after that outing. “It’s pretty simple. I just didn’t execute pitches tonight.”
Beckett is 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA and a .392 opponent batting average in three career starts against the Brewers, although he has not faced them since 2005.
The Brewers have now lost four straight games—their second skid of at least that length this month. They dropped a season-high six in a row May 2-8— all on the road. Including that losing streak, they have now lost their last eight games away from Miller Park.
Saturday’s nightcap was particularly sloppy. It featured seven errors by infielders, including a season-high four by the Brewers.
“The Red Sox made a bunch of errors, too, and they’re world champions,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “Think they’re learning anything tonight? It happens. You make errors.”
Milwaukee’s Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 6.00) will try to win consecutive starts for the first time in his career. The 24-year-old right-hander won for the first time since his season debut Tuesday, when he allowed three runs - two earned - and scattered eight hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Villanueva, who had been 0-4 with a 6.95 ERA over his previous six outings, has never faced the Red Sox.
Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez went 1-for-3 in Saturday’s opener before sitting out the second game. He remains two homers shy of becoming the 24th player in major league history to hit 500.