Sox rally but can't overcome Beckett start

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Sox rally but can't overcome Beckett start

BOSTON Will Middlebrooks' three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh saved Josh Beckett from his 10th loss of the season.

But it was not enough to save the Red Sox from a 10-9 loss, ending the 10-game homestand with a 4-6 record, falling to 55-57 this season. The Sox are 7-12 in Becketts starts.

Beckett turned in another poor performance Wednesday afternoon, going five innings (plus two batters in the sixth), giving up eight runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts and one hit batter. His ERA went up from 4.54 to 4.97.

The eight runs were a season high. The three home runs, though not a season high, were the most since giving up five homers in his first start of the season, April 7 at Detroit. Beckett had allowed just three home runs combined in his last 14 starts, and had not given up any in his last 12.

Neither starter was around for the decision. Texas left-hander Matt Harrison lasted just 4.2 innings, giving up five runs, four earned, on eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts and a home run.

Oswalt replaced Harrison, and, after retiring the first four batters he faced, faced four more without recording an out. With the by four runs in the seventh, Oswalt gave up a lead-off single to Dustin Pedroia, an RBI double to Adrian Gonzalez, and a walk to Cody Ross, before Middlebrooks three-run blast to left to tie the score, getting Beckett off the hook.

The home run was Middlebrooks 15th of season. Tuesday against the Rangers he hit the first pinch-hit home run of his career.

But in the ninth, Clayton Mortensen, who was called up earlier in the day and who replaced Beckett, opened with a walk to Elvis Andrus and a single to Josh Hamilton, before being replaced by Alfredo Aceves.

Aceves allowed a sacrifice fly to his first batter, Adrian Beltre, giving the Rangers a 10-9 lead.

Mortensen took the loss, falling to 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA.

Alexi Ogando, who came in after Oswalt, earned the win, improving to 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save.

Red Sox recall infielder Mike Miller, ship Cuevas back to PawSox

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Red Sox recall infielder Mike Miller, ship Cuevas back to PawSox

The Red Sox made another pitcher-for-infielder roster swap today, sending William Cuevas back to Pawtucket and bringing up Mike Miller as his replacement.

The Sox had summoned Cuevas from the PawSox over the weekend when they ran through their bullpen in Friday night's come-from-behind victory over Texas and he pitched twice against the Rangers, holding them to two hits over 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday and Sunday. Deven Marrero had been shipped out when Cuevas arrived, leaving the Sox with only one backup infielder (Marco Hernandez).

Now they have two again, with Miller making his first trip to the major leagues. He's been primarily a second baseman for Pawtucket, though he's also seen action at short and third. Miller -- the team's ninth-round selection in the 2012 draft -- had a combined .251 average in 46 games for the PawSox and six games for Double-A Portland.

However, his stay with the Red Sox will likely be as short as Cuevas'. Brock Holt may soon be ready for reactivation, after having missed more than a month because of a concussion, and he could take Miller's roster spot when he returns.

Bogaerts hitting at a record-setting pace

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Bogaerts hitting at a record-setting pace

A change of scenery is a must for the Red Sox after the rough series in Texas, where they were lucky to walk away with one win.

The pitching staff's struggles were the most apparent, but Xander Bogaerts had arguably his worst series of the season -- 2-for-12 at the plate and two errors in the field.

Although Bogaerts now finds himself three points behind José Altuve (.347) for the American League batting lead, he still leads the major leagues with 108 hits. He has more hits than Daniel Murphy, who’s at .349 in the National League.

And despite his weekend struggles, the Boston shortstop is in position to make a run at history  -- the single-season hits record.

Bogaerts is already in a comfortable spot to break Wade Boggs’ Red Sox record of 240 hits, set in 1985. Through 74 games, Bogaerts has 10 more hits than the Hall-of-Famer had at that point in the season.

He's also ahead of the pace set in 2004 by Ichiro Suzuki, who established the MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 that year. Bogarts has five more hits than Ichiro had through 74 games.

There's no guarantee he'll reach 262, or anything close. Ichiro had a strong finishing kick in '04, batting .418 with 159 hits after his 74th game. In fact, in his final 74 games, he hit .433 with 141 hits. He's left challengers in the dust before: Altuve was equal to Ichiro's pace in 2014 -- both had 105 hits in their first 76 games -- but wound up with "only" 225 hits.

So, admittedly, Bogaerts is facing an uphill battle.

He does have a one advantage over Ichiro, though. In 2004, Suzuki -- still playing for the Mariners -- usually had Randy Winn hitting behind him. Although Winn was a respectable player, he doesn’t command the respect of the hitter who's usually behind Bogaerts: David Ortiz.

Opposing pitchers still don’t plan to attack Bogaerts, but it’d only be worse if pretty much anyone other than Ortiz was coming up next.

And there’s one last set of statistics to consider:

Suzuki finished 2004 with 80 games in which he had at least two hits. That’s 49.7 percent of the games he played in.

Bogaerts has done that 33 times -- 44.6 percent of his games. So he needs to string together some big games if he intends to make an improbable run at the 12-year-old record.

Improbable, yes.

But definitely not impossible.