Josh Beckett’s Shutdown Seventh Inning Against Yankees Symbolic of His Clutch Season

Josh Beckett's Shutdown Seventh Inning Against Yankees Symbolic of His Clutch Season BOSTON — Josh Beckett's line Wednesday night will not go down as one of his best. It was not horrible, but he did give up five runs (four earned) for just the third time this season.

However, there were other aspects of the outing that simply reinforced what makes him great.

Not only did Beckett do enough to improve to 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA against the Yankees, becoming the first Red Sox pitcher since Al Nipper in 1987 to defeat New York four times in a season, but he ended his night in the fashion of a true No. 1 starter.

Beckett entered the top of the seventh with a 4-1 lead. A hit batter, a double, a walk, a double, an error and a sacrifice fly led to four quick runs for the Yankees. Alfredo Aceves was warming in the Boston bullpen, the visitors had the lead and Beckett was over 100 pitches. His night, quite possibly a losing one, may have been over.

But after the Red Sox grabbed the lead right back on a Jason Varitek RBI double and a two-run shot by Jacoby Ellsbury, Beckett showed his mettle, returning to the mound one last time and slicing through the heart of the Yankees order on just nine pitches in the seventh.

"Josh was able to come back out in the seventh and bear down and make the pitches," Varitek said.

It was the very definition of a shutdown inning.

"Came back out there and put a zero up. That's what counts. That's what we needed," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

With Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon rested and ready in the bullpen, getting to the eighth is such an important development for Red Sox starters. That has become even more pressing in recent weeks as the bridge to those last two guys has become unstable.

Beckett's dependability, even after a four-run inning, made that a non-issue.

"This is a guy we've relied on for so long now," manager Terry Francona said. "I think we were hoping he would come back with a vengeance and he has. I think from that second game of the season against New York, after Texas, he's been so consistent and so consistently good. It's important in this game that you know what you're getting. He's been that way all year."

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