Josh Beckett took the mound for the Red Sox looking to stop their losing streak at three games, but not even the hottest pitcher in baseball could lead the struggling offense to victory over the Rangers.
Headliner: Hank Blalock led the Rangers offense with a 2-for-3 night, knocking in two of the Rangers' four runs. Following a double steal in the first inning, Blalock singled to drive in Ian Kinsler and Andruw Jones to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead. The Rangers would add to their lead over the course of the game, but never trailed after Blalock's clutch two-out RBIs in the opening frame.
Dirt Dog: Tommy Hunter kept the Red Sox bats at bay with a solid six-inning performance to clinch the series for the Rangers. Hunter earned his second win of the season, allowing four hits and one earned run with two strikeouts and a walk. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.17 in the process and handed the ball off to the bullpen, which had little trouble closing out the Red Sox.
Better luck next time: Beckett picked a bad night to give up four runs over eight innings with the Red Sox offense struggling. Beckett was probably good enough to win on most nights, but with the Boston bats ice cold, he took his fourth loss of the season. Beckett struck out seven and walked one in his complete-game effort. However, Hunter and the Rangers bullpen were better in the second game of the series.
Key moment: With the Red Sox trailing by one run in the seventh, Beckett allowed a double to Jones and a single to Blalock to start the inning. After a strikeout of Marlon Byrd, David Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to score Jones and increase the Rangers' lead to two runs. Given the state of the Red Sox offense, a one-run lead would be hard to overcome while a multiple-run lead would be seemingly insurmountable.
On deck: The Red Sox and Rangers wrap up their three-game set on Wednesday night with Clay Buchholz (1-0, 1.59) facing Vicente Padilla (7-5, 4.67) in the series finale. Buchholz makes the start in place of Tim Wakefield, who was placed on the disabled list, and will try to stop the Red Sox' slide at four games. With a day off on Thursday, it will be an unpleasant plane ride back to Boston if the Red Sox fall for their fifth time in a row.
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