'Tek homers before rain suspends game
Red Sox to resume contest in bottom of ninth inning on Saturday
BOSTON -- On a cold and damp night, Josh Beckett went seven innings Friday, giving up one unearned run on four hits and a walk with eight strikeouts as the Rays and Red Sox had their series opener suspended by a rain delay while tied at 1 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The clubs will resume the contest before the start of their game on Saturday night at 7:10 ET. The continuation of Friday's game is governed by the rules of Major League Baseball. In accordance with those rules, the first game of the series must be played to completion before the second game may commence. Tickets for Saturday's game will be valid for both the suspended game and the regularly scheduled contest. Tickets for Friday will no longer be valid.
"I can give you the quote: 'We played hard. We came up short. We didn't hit.' Or I can say: 'You know what, there's a lot to be said for plugging away,'" manager Terry Francona said. "Because I don't know. It's a weird feeling, [but] I'd rather be here now, not losing."
The Red Sox have not had a game suspended since May 3, 1996, leading the Blue Jays, 6-1, at the end of the sixth at Fenway Park. The game was resumed the next day, the Sox winning, 8-7. The Rays have never before had a regular-season game suspended.
Despite uncomfortable conditions -- first-pitch temperature was 41 degrees -- Beckett will still on top of his game, keeping the Tampa Bay's hitters off balance.
"I pitched well when I needed to," said Beckett. "It wasn't exactly the ideal situation for the guys playing behind me. It felt good today, I actually enjoy the cooler weather. Obviously the rain is not ideal. ... But I don't mind the cooler weather.
"I threw a lot of pitches in the second and third innings, so to get through seven was big. You don't want to tax your bullpen the first day of a homestand with no days off in the near future."
Beckett was not frustrated by the outcome -- or lack of an outcome -- to the game.
"My job is to go out there and make pitches until they tell me my day is done," he said. "To keep the team in the game against a guy who's been throwing the ball well, I'm happy. I'll definitely feel better if we win. I've never been in this position."
After managing just six hits -- three by Dustin Pedroia -- off the Twins on Thursday, the Sox could muster just three through eight innings Friday against the Rays at Fenway Park.
Jason Varitek, playing in place of Victor Martinez, who had the night off, hit an opposite-field home run to left off Tampa Bay rookie right-hander Wade Davis. Varitek, making just his second start of the season, has three hits this year -- all home runs. His solo shot accounted for Boston's lone run.
"He took a very good swing," Francona said. "On a night when the ball is not carrying very well, he hits the ball the opposite way. That's a terrific swing. That's two games now he's taken three pretty good swings."
Boston had a chance to get on the scoreboard again in the sixth inning. With Grant Balfour pitching, Kevin Youkilis opened the frame with a walk. David Ortiz doubled sharply down the right-field line, with third-base coach Tim Bogar waving Youkilis home. But the throw from right fielder Ben Zobrist to second baseman Reid Brignac to catcher Dioner Navarro nailed Youkilis at the plate.
"I just felt like it was an opportunity to score the run right there," Bogar said. "With the conditions of the field, it was a play they had to make perfectly, and he was thrown out. That's the way it goes. It was down the right-field line. He was up against the wall there. ... I thought we had an opportunity to score. You've got to give them credit. They made a nice relay play and Navarro made a nice tag on a ball that was a little bit up the line. It wasn't like he was out by 30 feet, it was pretty close."
Francona supported his coach's decision.
"I think in a game where you're not scoring, sometimes we all try," Francona said. "You want to get the run. We knew the rain [was] coming. I don't think any third-base coach is going to be perfect all year. That's a tough job. And you get that ball down in that corner, if it rattles another step, he scores. If he'd been safe, we'd all been praising him."
Ortiz took third on Adrian Beltre's groundout to second and Jeremy Hermida was caught looking at a 92 mph fastball from Balfour for the final out of the inning.
The Red Sox's defense betrayed them in the second when Carl Crawford reached base with two outs when shortstop Marco Scutaro misplayed a ground ball, followed by Crawford stealing second. Zobrist hit a chopper that Beltre lost in the lights, allowing Crawford to score.
The Rays had four stolen bases, with Crawford stealing his 28th consecutive base against the Sox since he was last caught, Sept. 21, 2005. He has been successful on 55 of 59 attempts against Boston in his career, a .932 success rate.
"We have not stopped them from running against us," Francona said. "At the same time, they scored one run tonight. I guess I fall back, there are times when they flat out steal bases on us. There are times when we care more about the hitter. But it's one of their strengths and they've used it to their advantage against us, stating the obvious."
J.D. Drew was moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, as Francona was hoping to get Drew out of his slump. But Drew went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He has struck out in 11 of his past 19 at-bats. Ortiz struck out twice before his sixth-inning double.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.