Red Sox 4, Braves 0
ATLANTA (AP)—Josh Beckett’s slump lasted all of one game.
Bouncing back from his first loss, Beckett pitched six scoreless innings and even contributed a run-scoring double in his 10th win, leading the Boston Red Sox past the Atlanta Braves 4-0 Tuesday night.
The weather was the only thing that got the best of Beckett (10-1). The right-hander didn’t return after a 48-minute rain delay, letting three relievers finish up a five-hitter.
“Too much Beckett—period,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
After a 9-0 start, Beckett was roughed up for six runs and 10 hits in a 7-1 loss to Colorado last week. He got right back on track against the Braves, surrendering four hits and two walks while allowing only one runner to reach third.
“No. 10 has always been a win that’s kind of elusive for me,” said Beckett, whose career high for wins was 16 a year ago. “It usually takes me two or three starts. This time it took two.”
David Ortiz, on the bench the previous night with the designated hitter not in effect, returned to the lineup with a flourish. He played first base and broke up a scoreless game in the fourth with an opposite-field homer off Tim Hudson, the ball barely clearing the left-field wall.
“It felt real good, especially for a guy like me,” Ortiz quipped. “I don’t go deep too much.”
That was enough for Beckett, who pitched around his only major scare in the first. Atlanta’s second hitter, Willie Harris, nearly went deep with a drive that careened off the top of the wall in right-center.
“I made the big pitch when I needed to,” Beckett said. “I made four of them that I can recall off hand.”
Atlanta managed to get only two other runners to second base against Beckett. The previous night, the Braves pounded Curt Schilling for six earned runs and 10 hits in a 9-4 victory.
Schilling returned to Boston for a precautionary MRI exam after a disturbing drop in velocity. The Red Sox expect to get the results on Wednesday.
After managing just one hit through the first three innings, the Red Sox began teeing off on Hudson (6-5), who lost for the fourth time in his last five decisions against a team that has always given him trouble. He dropped to 3-9 with a 6.26 ERA in his career vs. Boston.
“The fifth killed me, giving up those hits to the eighth and ninth hitters,” Hudson said. “You’re supposed to get the pitcher out.”
Beckett scored on a single by Dustin Pedroia, giving the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
Boston knocked out Hudson in the sixth with two more hits, and Cora made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly off reliever Oscar Villareal. In 5 1-3 innings, Hudson surrendered nine hits and four runs.
The storm moved in during the sixth. The umpires called for the tarp after Beckett breezed through a 1-2-3 inning and the rain really started coming down.
Though his career record against Atlanta is a mediocre 6-7, Beckett has gained the upper hand on the Braves in recent appearances. He is 4-0 in his last five starts against the NL East team, surrendering just two earned runs in 31 innings (0.58 ERA).
Beckett got a big defensive assist from Coco Crisp, who homered twice the night before. In the fifth, the center fielder stretched out to make a diving, backhanded catch in left-center after Hudson drove one toward the gap.
The play may have prevented a run. Kelly Johnson followed with a single to center.
“Oh man, that’s the greatest catch I ever had behind me,” Beckett said. “I told him that again tonight. I think that’s about three or four times I’ve told him that.”
Boston C Jason Varitek doubled in the sixth to snap a 0-for-13 hitless streak. … Atlanta CF Andruw Jones continues to struggle, going 0-for-4. He’s mired in a stretch of 18 straight at-bats without a hit, dropping his average to .202. … Ortiz has five career hits at Turner Field; four of them are homers. … Braves SS Edgar Renteria, who is 10-for-17 over the last four games, left after the delay when his back stiffened. Cox said he doesn’t think it’s anything serious and Renteria should be able to play Wednesday.