Red Sox 8-3, FINAL: The Red Sox keep pace with the Yankees, who were up 7-3 in the ninth against the Rays.
End 8th, Red Sox 8-3: Delcarmen on to finish this one off, giving Beckett his 12th victory of the season.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 8-3: Daniel Bard continues to eat up the eight-inning outs, bypassing the usual cast of Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima. His triple-digit stuff is getting big outs and Terry Francona's confidence in the rookie grows with each outing.
9:45 p.m.: Beckett allows a leadoff triple to Scott Hairston in the eighth and Terry Francona makes the reluctant walk to the mound. Beckett gets a huge standing ovation as he stalks off the mound, his perfect season at Fenway six outs away from continuing.
End 7th, Red Sox 8-2: Thanks to a two-out, bases-loaded, ground-rule double by Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox have established a post-All-Star break best for runs in a game with eight. And I just set a two-sentence record for hyphens with six.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 6-2: Beckett gets strikeout No. 10 against Cabrera to end the seventh at 99 pitches. It doesn't appear Beckett will make it three complete games in a row, but it does not diminish one iota a brilliant performance so far tonight.
End 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Santiago Casilla replaces Trevor Cahill to start the sixth, and he allows a walk to Jason Varitek and a one-out single to Ellsbury (3-for-4). But for only the second time in six innings, the Red Sox fail to score. That's a sentence you haven't read too often since the All-Star break.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-1: Beckett has been so dominant tonight, even his bad inning looks good. Beckett allows his first run on three hits and a walk, but he strikes out two more for nine on the night.
Before the walk to Jack Cust with two outs in the inning, Beckett had faced 21 batters without going to a three-ball count, and only twice did he allow two balls in an at-bat. Of his first 66 pitches, 55 were strikes.
End 5th, Red Sox 6-0: LaRoche kills a rally in the fifth with an inning-ending double play, but the Red Sox score again for their second six-run output in the past three games. It's only the second such game in 10 since the All-Star break, after scoring at least six runs in 5 of 10 games prior to the break. Perhaps the offense is finally starting to awaken.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-0: Beckett is on cruise control now, retiring eight in a row since the bizarro double play in the third inning. Ryan Sweeney is strikeout victim No. 7. Meanwhile, get Mark Ellis some stick-em. They have that stuff in Oakland, or at least they used to. Twice tonight, Ellis has flung his bat down the third-base line on a swing-and-miss, nearly killing some fans in the second inning.
End 4th, Red Sox 5-0: The decision to play Adam LaRoche ahead of Mike Lowell is looking very wise tonight, LaRoche hits his second double of the game in the fourth, this one driving in the first run of the inning and setting the table for two more, as the Red Sox reach five runs in a game for just the second time in 10 games since the All-Star break. Even Lowell has to be happy with that.
"I think we're trying to find what's the best combination for us to win ballgames," Lowell said before the game. "We have to start swinging the bats and scoring some runs. Winning determines who plays. We have to win games. We have to find the combination that does. I think we're all on the same page about that."
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Beckett has just one double-digit strikeout game this season, and that came Opening Day April 7, when he fanned 10 Rays. He has a legit shot tonight, striking out two more in the fourth for six overall.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Jacoby Ellsbury has not always been the leadoff hitter the Red Sox desire, but he was a run creator in the third, leading off with a triple to right field that would have been a double for most lead-footed runners. Ellsbury then scored on a Dustin Pedroia sacrifice fly, giving Pedroia both RBI so far tonight.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: We may have just witnessed the most unique double play in Red Sox history. I defy Elias to show us a 3-1-4 double play in the record books. Eric Patterson led off with a single, then tried to steal second as Adam Kennedy popped out to LaRoche. Patterson hustled back to first base to beat Beckett to the bag. One problem: Patterson failed to touch second on the way back. Beckett threw to Pedroia, and Patterson was called out.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: The decision to start LaRoche looks good so far tonight, with Youkilis drawing a first-inning walk and LaRoche hitting a one-out double in the second. The problem, as Lowell said before the game, isn't one person, it's 25. J.D. Drew struck out before the double and Jason Varitek after, leaving LaRoche stranded.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Beckett is 6-0 in nine starts at Fenway this season with an ERA of 2.44. Only five Sox pitchers have gotten off to better starts at Fenway in a single season. Beckett is off to a hot start on a hot Monday night, recording two more strikeouts to give him four through two innings.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Dustin Pedroia is not impressed with Cahill's numbers against righthanders. With one out, Pedroia takes Cahill over the Monster for his fifth homer of the season.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Josh Beckett was a busy boy in the first inning. Beckett struck out two, but cost himself a chance for a perfect game by flubbing a weak comebacker by 2004 hero Orlando Cabrera for an error. Hard to believe it's been five years since the big trade, even harder to believe that OC and Nomar Garciaparra are now teammates.
7:05 p.m.: Mike Lowell is not in the lineup for the second consecutive game, but the reason is simply "manager's decision." Terry Francona said with Trevor Cahill tough on righties (.236) and with his desire not to yank Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and Adam LaRoche in and out of the lineup on a daily basis, there are going to be stretches where someone is going to sit more than one day in a row. That figures to be Lowell more than the other two. Lowell was philosophical about the arrangement before the game, but there's no denying his frustration. At .381 over his past 21 at-bats, Lowell is one of the few Sox hitters enjoying success during the recent hitting slump.
2:15 p.m.: The Yankees' lead remains 2 1/2 games, even after the Red Sox took 2 of 3 from the Orioles over the weekend. Tonight, they once again greet Nomar Garciaparra and the Athletics, who by virtue of a quirk in the schedule are back at Fenway for the second time this month. No sentimentality this time around: The Red Sox are desperate to put a winning streak together, and will send stopper Josh Beckett to the mound. Beckett suffered his first loss after a loss in 11 starts last Wednesday at Texas. Thanks to John Smoltz on Sunday, Beckett gets another chance tonight.