BOSTON -- Tough luck? Maybe that's how the casual observer looks at Red Sox ace Josh Beckett falling on the wrong side of a 2-1 score to the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Beckett looked at it as a loss, pure and simple.

"I was the second best pitcher today," said Beckett. "Bottom line. You get outpitched, you lose."

Still, it was hard to say that Blue Jays starter Jesse Litsch (6 2/3 innings, nine hits, one run, two strikeouts) outpitched Beckett, who struck out eight and allowed two runs and seven hits over eight innings.

Another way of looking at it is that the Blue Jays simply outhit a Red Sox team that was playing without starters Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia.

The Red Sox had 11 hits but didn't do much with them. The Blue Jays had one rally of substance against Beckett and they capitalized on it.

The loss handed the Red Sox a split of this four-game series with the Jays. Boston now leads the Yankees by nine games in the American League East, marking the first time the lead has been less than double-digits since June 28.

"Not happy after you take two out of the first three," said Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "You want to finish off the series."

It isn't often that a two-run rally in the second inning of any game played at Fenway Park winds up being the difference, but that was the case in this one.

With two outs and nobody on, Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay smashed a double over the head of Coco Crisp in center. Aaron Hill, a nemesis for the Red Sox of late, roped an RBI double to left for the first run of the game. Shortstop Royce Clayton went to right field for an RBI single to make it 2-0.

"Hill was a fastball," said Beckett, who is 12-3 with a 3.35 ERA. "I was trying to go in, and I got it in, but I left it up a little bit and he got enough of the bat on it. And Clayton, I was trying to do down and away, and it was right down the middle."

The Red Sox looked to bounce back in the bottom of the third, when Julio Lugo and Crisp led off with singles. But a sacrifice bunt attempt by Alex Cora didn't succeed, with Lugo getting thrown out at third.

"I got it down," said Cora. "I guess it wasn't a good bunt."

David Ortiz then hit into a 1-6-3 double play to end the threat.

After five innings of frustration, the Red Sox finally got something accomplished against Litsch in the sixth. Cora led off with a double to center and scored on an RBI double to center by Ortiz that Vernon Wells misplayed, thanks to the tough elements on a day the sun was shining and the wind was swirling.

With two outs, Eric Hinske lined a single to right and third-base coach DeMarlo Hale waved Ortiz in from second. Blue Jays right fielder Alex Rios made a perfect throw home and Ortiz, who has been playing with a sore right knee, was out by several feet.

"It was two outs," said Ortiz. "You've got to try. It doesn't matter, I didn't know the guy had a cannon, you know what I mean? What if he made a bad throw? You have to take your chances, especially against a guy who was throwing the ball good."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona also thought Hale's decision was a good one, even if the results didn't pay off.

"I think you'd about have to [send him]," Francona said. "Nice throw. Sixth inning, we're down one, got a chance to tie it up, I would have sent him too. He could have short-hopped the catcher or something like that."

As for Beckett, he entered the day with the best run support on the team at 6.8 per start.

"That's for [the media] to worry about," said Beckett. "I don't worry about that. I just go out there and try to get outs. I just got outpitched today. We've got guys playing hurt and everything, so I'm not worried about them scoring 15 runs every time I pitch."

Varitek was out of the lineup after getting nicked up behind the plate in several instances of Saturday's game. Drew missed his second start in a row with right hamstring woes. Pedroia, who was sick during the entire All-Star break, was simply getting a day of rest.

All three players are expected to return on Monday night, when the Red Sox try to erase the taste of a frustrating loss.