Beckett comes to Sox' rescue


Beckett comes to Sox' rescue

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON The Red Sox can breathe a little more easily. Josh Beckett -- who had not been on the mound since Sept. 5 in Toronto, when he left after 3 23 innings with a sprained right ankle -- did what he is supposed to do.

Anytime someones got a little bit of a layoff, you hope he comes out of the chute strong, said manager Terry Francona. He leaves a breaking ball up to Evan Longoria for a two-run homer in the first inning, so were down two against James Shields. Thats not the best way to play the game but we came back, which was so big.

And we played it even. We got it back quick. They score, we got it back again.

I thought he held his endurance well. Got it up to 109 pitches, made some big pitches when he had to pretty much the whole game.

Beckett earned the win, improving to 13-5 with a 2.50 ERA, as the Sox beat the Rays, 4-3. He did not dominate Tampa Bay, but after a shaky first inning, he settled down and gave his team enough to win and return the Sox lead in the American League wild card race over the Rays to four games.

Thats a tough team, Beckett said. I mean, obviously you got to beat guys in your division, especially when youre in the A.L. East. Basically, most years two teams are going to the playoffs out of this division. I dont know why it always works out that way. It just does. Guys scrap together and put enough runs together. First inning was obviously kind of a debacle. Thats kind of been me throughout my whole career. If you can get to me in the first inning, thats fine. But you just got to buckle down, make pitches when you need to.

Beckett, though, would not take credit for the win.

I pitched six innings, he said. Theres a lot of people that did a lot more for this game than I did. I made a few pitches when I needed to from the second through the sixth. Things worked out. But I think that our offense and our defense really picked me up. They kept coming back every time they scored a run or two runs we scored just as many or one more. So they really deserve the credit.

His offense and defense did much to earn the win. Still, knowing Beckett is healthy is as much a boost to the Sox heading down the stretch and potentially into the playoffs as his performance.

Its welcome anytime, Francona said. The way you put together . . . if you give yourself a chance to win every night, youre going to win some games and we havent done that much lately. If our pitchers are able to stay out there, it gives your offense a chance and youre not playing catch-up.

As tough as the last 10 days have been, in this atmosphere, this is I think why they work all winter. This is exciting. I was as nervous as can be. You cant get that feeling. You know youre going to win, you just dont know how. Some nights you dont, but you always feel like youre going to. Its a great feeling.

"We wouldn't have pitched him if he wasnt ready. We need him to be Beckett. We dont need him to be Beckett in name only. Despite whats been happening we want him to pitch effectively, or have a chance to pitch effectively. We wouldnt have pitched him if we were concerned about him.

Becketts performance and presence on the mound is vital.

Its huge, said Daniel Bard, who pitched a scoreless eighth. Its tough not going for 11 days as a starter. But thats credit to him, putting in the work and maintaining his delivery, stamina, and giving us six solid innings. Thats pretty much what hes done all year for us.

Despite the teams struggles, and his absence from the mound, and his team facing Rays ace James Shields, Beckett said he felt no extra pressure going into the game.

No, he said. Its just a game, you know. Yeah, we need to win. But its not the most important thing going on in my life. Maybe to some people but its not for me.

Despite his protestations, there is no denying it was a big win. It was just the Sox fourth win in September.

A loss would have cut the Sox lead over the Rays in the wild card race to two games with two to play against the Rays, and 10 more overall.

They're all big wins now, Beckett said. We kind of put ourselves in a little bit of a position where all the wins are going to be big from here on out, even when were playing people that were not actually in the race with because the other teams that are in the race are going to be playing games those days as well.

Yeah, it feels pretty good. Were a good team. Its going to happen. Were in a bad stretch at a bad time, kind of like at the beginning of the year. Everybody wrote us off. Nobodys ever bounced back form that but we have and we have a lot of guys in there that pushing through a lot of things, especially this year. The one thing thats not lacking is effort. We get a lot of effort from everybody. We get a few guys healthy and well see what happens.

On this night, the Sox needed a healthy Beckett. They saw what could happen.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

BOSTON (AP)  Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners to earn their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third consecutive win for Rodriguez (4-1), who went six innings, gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span.

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs. Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help from his defense. Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.


Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBI in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what manager John Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.


Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.


More AP baseball:

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP