Notes: Red Sox still not scoring for Beckett

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Notes: Red Sox still not scoring for Beckett

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Every year -- or so it seems -- one starting pitcher in a rotation is the victim of poor run support. When anyone else starts, the runs pile up; when the tough-luck guy takes the mound, however, the offense suddenly dries up.

This year, Josh Beckett is that guy for the Red Sox.

Despite an ERA of 2.20, and 11 quality starts in his first 15 outings, Beckett had just six wins before yesterday. The team was averaging 3.58 runs per outing for him, compared to 7.34 for Jon Lester, 6.30 for John Lackey and 6.16 for Tim Wakefield. Only Clay Buchholz (4.03) was close to Beckett when it came to poor backing.

For eight innings, it looked like Beckett was going to be left with a no decision, despite limiting the Houston Astros to a single run.

The Sox left the bases loaded twice and stranded eight baserunners from the third through the fifth. For the game, they were just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

But then, in the ninth, came a breakthrough of sorts.

With the bases loaded, Kevin Youkilis drew a bases-loaded walk, forcing in the go-ahead run and giving Beckett his 7th win in a 2-1 victory.

"We like to score runs every night for every pitcher,'' said Youkilis. "And it works vice versa sometimes -- some guys have bad outings when we hit the ball well, so...It's a collective team effort; it's not an individual thing. I don't think the pitchers look at that, either.

"Sometimes, they're going to throw bad and not get any runs scored for them. Sometimes, they're not going to get any scored for them. That's stuff that's out of control and out of their control. All we can do is go out there everyday and do our job. But it was nice to get the 'W' there for him.''

Sunday marked the second time in the last three Josh Beckett starts in which the opposition intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez in the late innings to get to Youkilis.

Both times Youkilis foiled the strategy.

On June 15 in St. Petersburg, FL, the Tampa Bay Rays walked Gonzalez with one out and a runner on third to set up a potential double play. Youkilis then hit a three-run homer off Jeremy Hellickson to account for the only runs in a 3-0 win over Tampa.

Sunday, his at-bat was a little less dramatic, but still led to a victory.

With runners at first-and-third, the Astros elected to walk Gonzalez to load the bases. But then Mark Melancon couldn't find the plate and walked Youkilis on a 3-and-1 pitch to force in pinch-runner Drew Sutton with the go-ahead run.

''When the guy in front of you is hitting .350 with 70-something RBI, it's expected,'' said Youkilis. "I love the challenge, I love going up there and I want to be the guy to bring the run home.''

The Red Sox have reached agreement with at least five international free agents, two industry sources confirmed, including 16-year-oldOF Manuel Marcos from the Dominican Republic who was widely seen as one of the best Latin prospects.

Saturday was the first day that teams could sign players from outside the U.S. and Canada who were 16 years or older. Players from Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic are not eligible for baseball's entry draft.

The Sox outbid the Yankees -- among others -- for Marcos, who projects as a center fielder.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.