Beckett improves to 9-0 on Drew's bat
Right fielder hits two homers and career-high seven RBIs
PHOENIX -- Some things -- the red-hot pitching of Josh Beckett, for example -- just keep chugging along for the Red Sox. Others, such as the production-deprived bat of J.D. Drew, look primed to start emerging.
Much to the delight of the Red Sox, Beckett produced what has become a status quo type of performance, yielding just two earned runs to the D-backs in a 10-3 Interleague victory on Friday night. Giving up just five hits and over eight innings, the sizzling righty, who's making a strong push for his first All-Star berth, is 9-0 with a 2.88 ERA.
Then there is Drew, who broke out of a massive slump with a prolific night of hitting. The right fielder belted two homers and drove in a career-high seven runs. For Drew -- who had seen his average go from .375 to .224 in a 35-game span -- it was the end of a 112 at-bat drought without a homer.
"I think he's a good player and a good hitter," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It was fun to watch him swing the bat like that. Our team got directly rewarded. He was a lot of our offense tonight, and we need that long term. He looked excited, the dugout looked excited. He took some good swings. He hit the ball to right, he hit the ball to left, he hit the ball to center."
Drew's surge was a direct benefit to Beckett, who held the Diamondbacks at bay.
"I'm on a great team," Beckett said. "These guys play great defense day in and day out behind me and score a lot of runs. They give me an early cushion in a lot of these games. I can't take all the credit for being 9-0. These guys have done an unbelievable job behind me."
It was another slumping hitter who got the night off to a rousing start for the visitors. Julio Lugo, after going 1-for-14 in the four-game series at Oakland, led the game off with a homer to left on a 3-2 pitch. Much like Drew, it had been a while for Lugo, who cleared the fences for the first time in 71 at-bats.
"He's been working hard," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "We need him to continue to work his way through."
Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis, who didn't look sharp all night, ran into more trouble in the third. Lugo led off with a walk and Manny Ramirez clubbed a two-out single up the middle. That set the stage for Drew's biggest hit in some time, as he roped a three-run homer to center.
"Confidence is key in the game, but I think the big thing for me is I'm going to forget about the past and push on and try to have good games in the future," said Drew.
Beckett gave a run back in the third on an RBI single up the middle by Eric Byrnes. However, a heads-up play by Lugo prevented the inning from being more damaging. After a Chris Snyder single to center, Alberto Callapso moved to second and then stepped off the bag, not realizing that Lugo was behind him with the ball in hand. The hidden ball trick was a success as Lugo swiftly tagged Callapso out.
"Lugo just kind of slipped behind him and the guy took his hand off the base and tagged him and the umpire called him out," said Beckett. "I was out there trying to get him to throw me the ball. I'm glad he didn't throw me the ball."
Davis ran into another Boston rally in the fourth. Following a walk to Dustin Pedroia and a single to right by David Ortiz, Ramirez belted an RBI single to left to give the Sox a 5-1 lead.
On an otherwise breezy night for the Red Sox, the only cause for concern came in the top of the sixth inning, when Ramirez was hit on the back of the left hand by an Edgar Gonzalez offering. Ramirez stayed in the game until the bottom of the seventh, when he was replaced by Eric Hinske.
Will Ramirez start Saturday?
"He's sore," said Francona. "We'll see."
Meanwhile, the Sox broke it open with four runs in the sixth, backed by Drew's second three-run shot of the night.
"We all knew it was just a matter of time," Beckett said. "I saw [Drew] in Atlanta, St. Louis and L.A. He's a great hitter. It was a big night for him. The other guys pitched in too. You can't hit three-run homers if nobody's on base."
The Red Sox, who own the best record in the Major League Baseball at 39-21, lead the American League East by 10 1/2 games.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.