May 29, 2011: Tigers 3, Red Sox 0

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May 29, 2011: Tigers 3, Red Sox 0

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT All good things must come to an end, and so the Red Sox five-game win streak ended with a 3-0 loss in Detroit Sunday night. Their loss bookends their 5-2 road trip, which began in Cleveland on May 23 with a loss.

Josh Beckett took the loss, falling to 4-2, with a 1.80 ERA. Beckett went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits, with a season-high five walks, and five strikeouts. Beckett threw 107 pitches, 65 for strikes.

Beckett gave up as many runs in the first inning, two, as he allowed in his previous five outings, spanning 30 innings.

Justin Verlander earned the win, improving to 5-3. He went 7 23 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He threw a career-high 132 pitches, 83 strikes. His final pitching, walking Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth, was a 100-mph fastball.

The Tigers did all their damage against Beckett in the first inning. Beckett struck out Austin Jackson, leading off, before allowing the next four batters to reach base. Andy Dirks walked and scored on Brennan Boeschs double to right. Boesch then scored on Miguel Cabreras single to right. It was Cabreras first career hit off Beckett. Victor Martinez, who went 3-for-3 against Beckett, singled to right before Beckett could retire Don Kelly on a fly ball to Carl Crawford in left and Alex Avila on a called strike, on a curveball.

The Sox best chance to score came in the eighth. J.D. Drew hit a one-out single and took second on center fielder Austin Jacksons bobble. After Jason Varitek struck out, looking at a Verlander curveball, Ellsbury worked Detroits ace for a six-pitch walk, driving Verlander from the game. But Joaquin Benoit came in and retired Pedroia on a fly out to Dirks in left.

The Tigers added another run in the eighth off Scott Atchison, who gave up a lead-off double to Cabrera and an RBI single to Kelly.

Jose Valverde, who coughed up the go-ahead home run to Ortiz in the first game, pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 12th save of the season.

Player of the Game: Justin Verlander

After his team had lost the first three games of the four-game series, Verlander shutdown the Sox over 7 23 scoreless innings to the win, improving to 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA. He gave up four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He threw a career-high 132 pitches, 83 strikes. His final pitch, walking Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth, was a 100-mph fastball.

And its not just his fastball, said Jason Varitek. Hes got a lot of weapons.

In his last four starts against the Red Sox, Verlander has pitched a combined 30 23 innings, giving up six earned runs for a 1.76 ERA.

Honorable Mention: Brennan Boesch

Boesch entered the game 0-for-3 in his career against Beckett. In his first at-bat he recorded his first hit against the Sox right-hander. It would prove to be all the offense the Tigers would need.

In the first inning with Andy Dirks on first with a walk, Boeschs double to right scored Dirks with the Tigers first run. Boesch then scored on Miguel Cabreras single to right.

Boeschs double was his only hit of the game, but it was the difference maker.

The Goat: Josh Beckett

Beckett could just as easily been named in the Honorable Mention category. Although he took the loss, falling to 4-2 (1.80 ERA), Beckett pitched well enough to keep the Sox in the game. He went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits, with a season-high five walks, and five strikeouts. Beckett threw 107 pitches, 65 for strikes. He gave up as many runs in the first inning, two, as he allowed in his previous five outings, spanning 30 innings.

He gave up two runs on a walk and three hits in the first inning. After that, he allowed just two runners Danny Worth in the second and Victor Martinez in the third to advance as far as second base.

Turning Point: Sox miss their chance

The Sox best chance to score came in the eighth. With Verlander still in the game and approaching his career-high in pitches, J.D. Drew hit a one-out single and took second on center fielder Austin Jacksons bobble. After Jason Varitek struck out, looking at a Verlander curveball, Jacoby Ellsbury worked Detroits ace for a six-pitch walk, driving Verlander from the game. Verlanders final pitch was a 100-mph fastball. But Joaquin Benoit came in and retired Pedroia on a fly out to Dirks in left, ending the Sox' best threat.

Jose Valverde, who gave up David Ortizs ninth-inning, go-ahead home run in the first game, pitched a perfect ninth to secure the win.

By the Numbers: .134

After batting .295 (64-for-217) in the first six games of the seven-game road trip, the Red Sox could do very little against Verlander and the Tigers in the finale, going 4-for-30, batting .134. In all, they hit .275 on the road trip. Their team average is now .267.

Quote of Note:

The last games what we care about and we lost tonight. But were playing better baseball, giving ourselves a chance. Well get home and play soon. -- Manager Terry Francona on the Red Sox' 5-2 road trip

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Haggerty: Rask puts up, makes critics shut up

Haggerty: Rask puts up, makes critics shut up

BOSTON -- The decision to sit out Saturday night's game against the Islanders, for whatever issue needed healing, worked wonders for Tuukka Rask.

Rask looked fresh, strong and determined while stopping 24 of 25 shots in a 4-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday night, and, at the very least, temporarily quieting talk of his missing Saturday's win over the Islanders because of a lower-body injury that wasn't disclosed until the day of the game. It also snapped his personal four-game losing streak, in which Rask had allowed 15 goals on 95 shots (an .842 save percentage) and hit rock bottom while surrendering a couple of damaging soft goals in last week's loss to the Lightning.

After watching Anton Khudobin battle, brawl and double-pad-stack his way to a huge win in Brooklyn on Saturday, Rask played with his own battling style Tuesday, fighting through Nashville attackers as he limited the the Preds to one goal.

"I loved [his battle]," said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "He really worked hard to find pucks in traffic. They created some good opportunities, and even the goal against, he found it. They just tipped it at eye level so it was going to be a tough one, and we need to be better in the shooting lane on that one.

"But I thought he was terrific, very pleased with his performance. If you've got to track pucks, you've got to find pucks and you've got to fight through bodies, and he did a real good job with it.

"I thought we played well in front of him, but when we broke down it seemed to be in those areas where we couldn't break the puck up below our goal line. [There were] lot of bodies, a lot of point shots. This is the type of team, [Ryan] Ellis, [P.K.] Subban, [Roman] Josi, they rely on that part of the game and traffic. It was going to be a test for [the defense] there. I thought [Rask] answered the bell and in a terrific manner."

There were no two ways about it, Rask was truly excellent in a game where he had to be.

He made a save in the second period on Viktor Arvidsson when a David Backes turnover at the half-wall gave Arvidsson a wide open look at the net, and made 9 of his 24 saves in the third period as the Predators ramped up the desperation once Craig Smith had broken through on a tipped Josi shot. He also was the beneficiary of 24 blocked shots from the defenders in front of him. Adam McQuaid had five of the blocks all by himself,  absorbing all kinds of bumps and bruises in the process.

It was clear that the Bruins, as a team, were in late-season urgency mode.

"Well, we needed [a win]," said Rask. "Personally, I mean, I've lost four games but played a couple good games there, and we just didn't get the bounces. But we kind of got in winning habits there in [Broooklyn] and me stepping in here, I just wanted to make sure that I gave us a chance to win. The guys did the rest. So, it was a great team effort today, I think. As I said before, we blocked a lot of shots, which is huge."

So does one solid performance mean everything is settled for the B's No. 1 netminder after sitting out last weekend?

It certainly goes a long way toward putting some distance between Rask and whatever lower-body injury popped up and then disappeared just as quickly, and it puts a bit more of an optimistic spin for the remainder of the season. Rask didn't actively listen to any of the criticism of the last couple of days, but he fully understands that it comes along with the territory of being the No. 1 goalie in a city that takes hockey seriously.

"I can't do anything about what people say," said Rask, who took a pretty good hit on a Predators drive to the net in the third period but kept right on trucking. "I'm not staying home because I want to say home. I'm not playing because I don't want to play. I don't think any athlete does that. Obviously what's happened where I missed a game [vs. Ottawa] last year, people are going to talk about it. That's just the nature of media people, and what they talk about. It's fine.

"[All you can do is] you try not to read any of it, you stay even-keeled and you play the game the right way."

But the bottom line is the Bruins need much more of what they saw from Rask on Tuesday -- determined, tough-minded, a strong No. 1 goalie -- in the final six games if they want to be a playoff team this year.

He played well enough in the first few months, carrying the Bruins through the early portion of the season, to make people forget about calling in sick against Ottawa in the final game of last season. That's to Rask's credit. But last weekend's action, or lack of it, brought some of those same nagging questions back. He needs to build on Tuesday's encouraging performance to continue instilling confidence that he's a big-time No. 1 goalie.

Morning Wrap: Looking at C's potential first-round foes

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Morning Wrap: Looking at C's potential first-round foes

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