Instead, Beckett settled down nicely – and his team came from behind to win.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish hit a
go-ahead two-run single in the sixth, J.D. Drew had a two-run double one
batter earlier and the Red Sox rallied for a 5-3 victory over the
Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Beckett (5-4) turned to his secondary
pitches to get on track after a rocky start as Boston avoided its first
sweep by the A’s since May 23-25, 2008. The Red Sox have been swept in
the series only three times in the last 18 years.
“Beckett, that was kind of a weird
outing,” Francona said. “Five walks, but four in a row. You’re kind of
on the edge of your seat after the third inning.”
Dallas Braden (9-12), still trying to
reach double digits in wins for the first time in his career, lost his
third straight start. All the damage came in that tough sixth inning.
The left-hander also struggled with location, walking four after issuing
two or fewer walks in each of his previous 20 starts.
“The story today was I provided a nice
walkathon for them,” Braden said. “It was just gross. I don’t ever
complain on balls and strikes because I’m a big believer that that stuff
evens out over the course of a season, but today was bad. Period.”
Oakland’s Coco Crisp stole six bases in the series against his former team, including his career-high 29th and 30th on Sunday.
The Red Sox added an insurance run in
the eighth on pitcher Jerry Blevins’ wild throw past first trying to get
Drew on a single. That allowed Adrian Beltre to score.
Before the sixth, “we weren’t doing anything,” Francona said.
Boston won for only the fifth time in
its last 13 road games. The Red Sox still have three games in Seattle
starting Monday to conclude their second-to-last trip of the year.
Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect
ninth with three called strikeouts for his 36th save in 43 chances,
pitching for the first time in seven days. He threw 48 pitches in his
career-high seventh blown save and loss to the White Sox on Sept. 5.
Daric Barton was ejected after making the final out by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt for arguing the called third strike.
“I know some guys weren’t very happy
about it, but you have to make adjustments,” Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki
said of the strike zone. “There’s no mystery to it: If he’s going to
call it, you have to swing.”
Crisp got his 29th steal in the third
for a new career high, topping his 28 for the Red Sox in 2007. He stole
No. 30 in the sixth – and on a day Hall of Fame speedster and Crisp
mentor Rickey Henderson gave a pushup demonstration in the clubhouse
pregame to show he still has it at 51.
This marked the first time the Red Sox gave up six steals to an A’s player since Henderson had six from July 2-4, 1984.
Mark Ellis hit a two-run double in
the fifth to put the A’s up 3-0. Ellis extended his hitting streak to a
career-high 12 games with an infield single in the second.
Cliff Pennington hit a two-out triple
in the bottom of the sixth after the Red Sox took the lead, but Oakland
Beckett ran into trouble in the
third, when he walked four straight batters and issued Jack Cust’s free
pass to force in the first run of the game.
“I think I should only have walked three of them,” Beckett said, questioning one of the walks but not specifying.
After Kurt Suzuki drew a walk for
Beckett’s third consecutive base on balls, he received a mound visit
from pitching coach John Farrell. Then catcher Victor Martinez came out
to chat during Cust’s plate appearance.
Yet Beckett got out of the inning without further damage, retiring Ellis on a called third strike and Jeremy Hermida on a liner.
“After you get out of something like
that, it’s easy to take a deep breath and get back to what you know
works,” Beckett said. “I don’t think rhythm would be the right word,
It was the first time he walked so
many in one inning since issuing five walks in the top of the first on
Sept. 23, 2004, while with Florida against Philadelphia – but those
didn’t all come in order. He walked four in a row for the first time in
Beckett allowed three runs on five
hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked five to win for the
first time in three starts. He had lost two of his last three decisions
but was coming off a season-best nine-strikeout performance in a
no-decision against the White Sox his last time out.
“A lot of it is perspective,” Francona said. “If we didn’t score, the first question is, ‘What’s wrong with Beckett?'”
The right-hander has allowed three or
fewer earned runs in each of his last seven outings against Oakland,
four of those at the Coliseum.
Marco Scutaro again started at
2B for the Red Sox. Francona doesn’t plan to use him every day at SS
for the rest of the season because of his troublesome right shoulder.
… The A’s won the season series (5-4) for the first time since going
7-3 in 2006, Oakland’s last playoff season.
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