BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Josh Beckett has allowed only six earned runs in his lastfour starts, but once again was held to a no-decision on Monday night atFenway Park.
In those last four outings Beckett has pitched 25 13 innings,including the seven shutout innings he put together in Bostons 2-1,extra-innings win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
Beckett said after the game his defense made him lookbetter than his stuff, but he still allowed zero runson six hits and only one walk, while striking out five in 103 pitches.
It marked the ninth scoreless outing from a Red Sox starterthis season, which is the most in the majors.
He was tremendous, said manager Terry Franconaafter the win. One walk, he really pitched well. Weve come to kind of expectthat, which is good for us. He feels good about himself. Hes throwing a lot ofstrikes with all his pitches. And has been really effective.
I felt like we played great defense, said Beckett. Theyprobably made it look that way. I kept mixing pitches in there but it was astruggle to find my curveball early. I felt like I got away with a fewmistakes. The hardest-hit balls that they hit were at guys.
Beckett, who now has an ERA of 1.99, left the game with a1-0 lead, thanks to an Adrian Gonzalez RBI single to left field in the fifth. But after an eighth inning that saw a Denard Span single, followed byan Alfredo Aceves balk and a two-out, bloop RBI single by Jason Kubel off JonathanPapelbon, Beckett was no longer able to pick up a decision.
But as long as the Red Sox eventually come out on top,Becket said no decisions really dont bother him.
We get paid to win games, and ateam win is way better than me getting a win or a loss or whatever, saidBeckett. Ill finish up 2-1 if we win the rest of my starts. Id be completelyhappy with that. I dont have an arbitration case which frequently hinge on won-loss record to win.
Picking up that win on Monday night was reliever HidekiOkajima, who hadnt seen any game action since May 4.
Okajima threw 43 pitches (27 for strikes) in two innings ofwork, and allowed only two hits while walking two and striking out three.
He had been rested for a few days, which is good, becauseweve leaned on Matt Albers and Daniel Bard a little bit, said Francona. We wanted tostay away from them. He did a good job.
Those guys down in the bullpen, theyre aware of whosavailable and whos not. You didnt see anybody warming up. He knew he had topitch.
I was just making sure that I hit the corners today, andmade sure they didnt hit a home run off me, said Okajima. I think I did agood job.
In between Beckett and Okajima, Aceves and Papelbon blewwhat would have been a 1-0 Red Sox win. They did so in the top of the eighth,when Kubel blooped a single into shallow right-center, just out of the reach ofDustin Pedroia, and scoring Span from second with two outs.
Pap did a good job, said Francona. Pap came in and madegood pitches. That ball, thats their best hitter right now, and he hit a splitthat barely got over Pedeys head. Thats not bad pitching.
Span who scored the the game-tying run got to second because of another Aceves balk, which made him the first Red Sox pitcher to balk in consecutive appearances since John Dopson did it in three straight outings in 1989.
Aceves balk on Monday night came as a result of a bizarrewind-up, which looks as though he decided to pitch from fromthe stretch mid-windup.
Francona came out to argue after the balk call, but saidits something that Aceves needs to stop doing.
First of all, umpire Angel Hernandez, who ejected Francona for arguing an Aceves balk call on Friday night invited me out, which I thought wasnice, said Francona. He invited me out. That was cool. I thought he was maybelike reeling me in to throw me out.
He actually said that Alfredo was kind of going out of thewindup, and hes probably right . . . We were trying to get Aceves attentionon the first pitch, and then when he didnt call it, we thought we were okay.
Weve got to get Aceves to quit doing that. He did it inspring training, and pitching coach Curt Young talked to him. You dont want to invite, orgive somebody a chance to call something. He doesnt need to do that . . . Whenyou do things out of the ordinary, youre kind of opening up a chance forsomebody to call something.
With a third-inning single, Jacoby Ellsbury extended hishit streak to 18 games on Monday night, a stretch in which hes batting .367.
Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.