Beckett hit hard in blowout vs. A's
Right-hander gives up seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings
BOSTON -- After winning four of his previous five decisions, Josh Beckett displayed a poor second-half debut and raced down the track of his roller-coaster season by allowing seven runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in the A's 15-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night.
"Today, it was just one of those most confusing days," Beckett said, "because I did feel good right out of the shoot. Sometimes when you feel that good ... no excuses. It was brutal."
To the 36,319 Fenway faithful, the first inning, in which Beckett allowed three hard-hit singles and Manny Ramirez was robbed of a two-run home run by a fully-extended Milton Bradley, should've been a good indicator that their cheers would be silenced by an unfavorable outcome.
"I feel good. When you feel that good physically, that's what really gets under your skin. When you feel good, it is supposed to be an easy day," Beckett said. "It is not a deal where you feel sorry for yourself. It is a battle sometimes."
Oakland southpaw Barry Zito finessed his way to a win, allowing two runs and six hits over five-plus innings while the A's lineup locked in on the very hittable fastballs that Beckett continually fired.
"We always felt like we were gonna score, even with Zito pitching, and I felt that we did a very good job with [Zito's] pitch count early," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Later in the game, when it spreads out like that, you kind of forget about that, because it's inconsequential because we struck out so much."
The most glaring example of Beckett's ineffectiveness came on a two-run home run in the fourth inning by the light-hitting shortstop Mark Ellis (.223, four home runs and 18 RBIs) that left Fenway in the blink of an eye. It was the 27th home run allowed by Beckett this season, the most in the Major Leagues, and 11 more than his previous season high. It was the fourth time he allowed seven earned runs or more this season.
"That was a fastball out of the stretch that I was trying to go too quick and put the ball right over the middle of the plate," Beckett said.
While Beckett threw with good velocity, what was most impressive was the speed with which the ball traveled after being hit.
"When you throw that many pitches, it says a lot," said Francona, who noted that if pitchers fall behind in counts, batters are getting to see more of their stuff. "The hitters have seen everything you have, and if you catch too much of the plate, they can do some damage -- and if there are runners already on base, it kind of multiplies."
After the Ellis home run in the fourth put the A's ahead, 4-0, Bradley smacked a two-run double that scored Jay Payton and Bobby Crosby. Beckett was then relieved by left-hander Craig Breslow, who was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday. Breslow allowed no runs and one hit over 1 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox have lost three straight and six out of their last nine, and it is the first time they have lost two in a row at home since May 23-24, against the New York Yankees.
The Red Sox swung the bats well, but could not catch a break at the plate or capitalize on efficient Oakland pitching.
Along with the crime performed on Ramirez's shot in the first, David Ortiz hit a 400-foot blast that flew to straightaway center and died at the wall.
The sixth inning provided false hope for Boston after RBIs by Coco Crisp and Kevin Youkilis cut the deficit to a less embarrassing 7-2. Mark Loretta reignited the fans with a towering shot to left field that hooked foul over the Green Monster and then walked to set up the most clutch hitter in baseball with two men on base.
Chants of "Papi, Papi!" swirled through the stands as Ortiz stepped into the familiar situation. Oakland pitcher Kirk Saarloos then threw a pitch that Ortiz almost hit into another time zone, but the ball curved foul and he would end up grounding out into his namesake's shift to end the inning and the Boston threat.
Relievers Javier Lopez and Julian Tavarez could not stop the bleeding anymore than their teammates who took the mound earlier. They combined to allow eight runs in the eighth inning.
The eight runs were a season high allowed in an inning by the Red Sox, as well as a season high scored by the A's.
Howard Kussoy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.