Beckett shuts down KC for 100th win
Sox ace goes all the way, picks up second shutout of '09
BOSTON -- Josh Beckett credited the Red Sox's offense for helping him reach a personal milestone on Sunday, but in truth, it was his teammates who should have thanked their ace.
Complete-game shutouts are always appreciated.
Boston's All-Star right-hander closed out the first half of the season with another gem, firing a three-hitter for his 100th career win and leading the Red Sox to a series-clinching 6-0 victory over the Royals at Fenway Park.
"It's pretty memorable," Beckett said of reaching the 100-win plateau. "It's cool. It means I've stuck around for a little while. Obviously, you try to win every game, but sometimes, things don't work out in your favor. Fortunately for me, this team scores quite a bit of runs. It's kind of jump-started me toward those numbers."
Beckett struck out seven to give the American League East-leading Red Sox (54-34) their fifth-best record before the break since 1954.
One night after recording his first Major League hit, first baseman Aaron Bates picked up right where he left off with three more knocks to front a 10-hit attack.
Kevin Youkilis' first-inning RBI single staked the Sox to a 1-0 lead through 3 1/2 frames, but Boston's bats came alive in the fourth with a game-changing three-spot against Royals starter Bruce Chen (0-4) and the Kansas City bullpen.
Bates plated Nick Green with a double to center, followed by an RBI groundout from David Ortiz. Jason Varitek's bases-loaded walk gave the Red Sox a 4-0 advantage through five, plenty of cushion for a cruising Beckett (11-3).
"He attacked the zone with his fastball, and it was very obvious they wanted to hit his fastball," manager Terry Francona said. "He worked ahead and stayed out of the middle. He was so good today. That was fun to watch."
Despite his impressive efficiency (94 pitches), Beckett fought through the middle innings before righting himself against the free-swinging Royals (37-51).
"He was outstanding -- not a lot we could do with him today, to be honest with you," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
"Believe it or not, he had to kind of battle a little bit," Varitek said. "He worked his way through it to get back to his delivery. I don't think it comes as easy for him as people might think. He falls off as much as anybody, and he has to make adjustments."
After posting a 7.22 ERA in five April starts, the 29-year-old has made all the right moves over the past 10 weeks to regain his dominant form.
"I don't think it's a coincidence," Francona said of the turnaround. "He's been the Beckett we've come to appreciate."
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.