BOSTON The difficulties that have plagued Josh Beckett in the first inning this season continued to bother him Wednesday afternoon against the Rangers, when he gave up three runs on two hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the first.But Beckett spread his troubles out over his outing. He also gave up three runs in fifth and two in the sixth, leaving before he could record an out in the inning.In all, Beckett went five innings (plus two batters in the sixth), giving up a season-high eight runs on eight hits, three home runs, a hit batter, and two walks with three strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches, 58 for strikes.Beckett was not involved in the decision, though, as the Sox lost, 10-9. The offense battled back several times, bailing him out from what would have been his 10th loss of the season, as his ERA rose from 4.54 to 4.97. The Sox fell to 4-6 on the just-concluded homestand, 55-57 overall.Beckett is 1-5 in his last 10 outings. The Sox are 7-12 in his 19 starts this season.Clayton Mortensen, who was called up earlier in the day and who replaced Beckett, took the loss. He had gone three innings, giving up just one run. But with a bullpen that was stretched thin, manager Bobby Valentine sent him out for the ninth, when he faltered.Beckett made some good pitches and he made some not-so-good pitches, Valentine said. He finished the fifth inning pretty good. The bottom of the order I thought he could maybe squeak one out. I sure wasnt expecting No. 9 hitter Geovanny Soto to hit a home run.But Soto did hit a home run there in the sixth, the last of three Beckett surrendered. The three home runs were the most hes given up since his first start of the season, when he gave up five in Detroit on April 7. He had not allowed a home run in his last 12 starts, a career high. The three home runs to the Rangers match his total from his last 14 starts.In the fifth inning, Beckett gave up two home runs, a lead-off shot by Rangers No. 9 hitter Mitch Moreland and a two-run shot by Josh Hamilton, who has clobbered Beckett in his career.Hamilton who went 2-for-3 with a home run, a triple, two runs scored, and four RBI against Beckett and is hitting .435, going 10-for-23 with three home runs and 11 RBI against the Red Sox right-hander in his career.With no outs in the sixth, Sotos two-run blast, his first with the Rangers since being acquired from the Cubs at the trading deadline, ended Becketts outing.The eight runs were the most Beckett has given up since May 7, 2010, when he gave up nine against the Yankees in 5 13 innings. Seven of his nine career games in which hes given up eight or more runs have been at Fenway Park.Beckett left his last start, July 31 against the Tigers, after just 2 23 innings with a back spasm. He said his health was not an issue Wednesday.Back felt good, Beckett said. Just too many pitches down the middle of the plate and everything was up. Even when I was on the corners it was still up.On a radio show earlier this week, Beckett said the back spasm was caused by a lack of sleep because of anxiety surrounding the trade deadline. There were no lingering effects of that anxiety, he said.No, like I said, I felt good out there today, he said. I just left some balls up and they took advantage of them. The ball that Hamilton hit, if its down a little more, its probably not a home run. He did a good job of getting to it. But its still up. And the ball that Soto hit, it was up, and down the middle of the plate. You cant pitch there against these guys. These guys are good.Just too many balls down the middle of the plate. So control, in that matter, yeah, was a problem. Not necessarily control outside the zone. Inside the zone it was like everything was elevated.Asked what he will work on between now and his next start, Beckett said he will focus on placement of his fingers on the ball.Just got to get back to work and get my fingers on top of the ball, he said. And throw balls where they cant hit them that hard.Did he realize during the game his finger placement was off?Yeah, you tend to notice that when theyre hitting rockets, he said.Could he have made adjustments during the game?Yeah, I have before, he said.Why not in this game?I didnt make the adjustments, he said.Any reason?No, not one I can put my finger on, he said.Pun intended? Who knows?As has become a trend at Fenway for Becketts starts, he walked off the field as a chorus of boos rained down on him.I cant control that, he said.Does it bother him?I cant control it, he said.He will, at least, acknowledge its been a difficult season.Its tough, he said. Itd be a lot better if we were winning two out of every three games. Thats what makes it tough. These are the guys that I got to come to work with every day. Its been tough on all of us.
Lou Merloni tells you why he’s rooting for the Indians to win the World Series and not the Cubs.
LOS ANGELES - Jon Lester pitched seven sharp innings, Addison Russell hit a tiebreaking homer and the Chicago Cubs moved one win from their first World Series trip in 71 years by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 on Thursday.
The Cubs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the NL Championship Series and will have two chances to wrap up that elusive pennant back home at Wrigley Field.