Red Sox prevail behind Beckett

Posted April 10, 2011, at 5:31 p.m.
Last modified April 11, 2011, at 12:18 a.m.

BOSTON — Josh Beckett allowed two hits in eight shutout innings and the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 4-0 on Sunday night to take two out of three games from their rivals after opening the season with six straight losses.

Beckett (1-1) was dropped to fourth in the season-opening rotation but struck out 10 and walked one while retiring the last 14 batters he faced.

The Red Sox returned home after the worst start to a season since they lost their first eight games in 1945. They ended that streak by beating the Yankees 9-6 on Friday before losing 9-4 on Saturday.

Dustin Pedroia reached base all five times he went to bat with three singles, all against CC Sabathia (0-1), an intentional walk and a force play. He got on base in 10 of his last 11 trips to the plate as the Red Sox won despite stranding 16 runners, including three in both the sixth and seventh innings

Boston’s starters struggled in seven of their first eight games, but Beckett flashed the form that made him an ace before an injury-plagued 2010 in which he went 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA. Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation.

Beckett set down the first seven hitters, four on strikeouts, before Eric Chavez singled to center and Russell Martin was hit by a pitch. But Brett Gardner grounded into a double play.

Beckett struck out Derek Jeter to start the fourth then walked Mark Teixeira, who took second on a single by Robinson Cano, the last Yankee to reach base in the game. The right-hander got out of the inning by striking out Curtis Granderson and retiring Nick Swisher on a ground ball.

Alex Rodriguez had flulike symptoms and was a late scratch from the New York lineup.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the third on Mike Cameron’s RBI single but kept wasting opportunities as they stranded 12 runners through six innings.

They finally scored again in the seventh on Marco Scutaro’s two-run single. David Ortiz began the inning with a walk, Cameron struck out, but J.D. Drew walked and Jason Varitek singled, loading the bases for Scutaro.

Boston made it 4-0 in the eighth on a leadoff walk to Kevin Youkilis and a long double off the center field wall by Ortiz.

A baserunning gaffe by Youkilis cost the Red Sox a run in the second. Boston loaded the bases on singles by Pedroia and Gonzalez and a walk to Youkilis. Ortiz grounded to second baseman Cano, who threw for an apparent forceout at second to Jeter, whose relay to first got Ortiz.

Pedroia went home and Gonzalez took third on the play. But Youkilis was called out for leaving the baseline, sending Pedroia back to third and Gonzalez to second while allowing the out on Ortiz at first. Cameron then singled home Pedroia before Drew struck out.

Notes: Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz and the team agreed to a four-year deal through 2015 that includes club options for 2016 and 2017. He was second in the AL with a 2.33 ERA and made the All-Star team last year but is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA this season. … Only two of the Yankees’ outs made it out of the infield, fly balls to right fielder Drew by Cano in the second and Martin in the eighth.

On Saturday, Boston’s Buchholz struggled as he allowed five runs in 3 2-3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Yankees.

“They’re just a team that’s going to make you throw strikes and work the counts,” Buchholz said. “I got deep into a couple of counts with a couple of guys and I had to throw strikes. I didn’t want to walk everybody. They put the bat on the ball in a couple of situations.”

Buchholz was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA and made the AL all-star team in 2010, his first full season. This year he’s 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA. But he’s not the only Boston starter having problems.

In eight games, seven of them losses, starters have gotten out of the sixth inning just twice. The only solid performance was Jon Lester’s seven shutout innings at Cleveland on Thursday, but the Indians won on a squeeze bunt in the eighth against Daniel Bard.

Before Beckett’s win on Sunday, Boston’s starters were 1-5 with a 7.41 ERA while allowing 12 homers in 41 innings.

“I don’t think (starters) go into a game pressing,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “I don’t think it’s been a very good first time and a half through the rotation. … I don’t think we’re going to pack it in.”

John Lackey has lasted just 8 2-3 innings and has a 15.58 ERA in two starts. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett have allowed three runs in five innings in their only starts, a 5.40 ERA. Beckett faces CC Sabathia in the finale of the three-game series on Sunday night.

“Everybody’s a little bit surprised,” Buchholz said. “We’re battling now trying to find ways to win games and it’s going to start with us as starters going out there and giving some innings.”

Russell Martin hit two of New York’s four homers and the Yankees rebounded one day after becoming the only team to lose to the Red Sox (1-7) this season.

Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano also went deep for the Yankees, who already have 18 homers through eight games. The Red Sox have allowed 19 in their eight games.

David Robertson (1-0) pitched 1 2-3 perfect innings after starter Ivan Nova was lifted with one out in the fifth with the Yankees leading 7-4.

The Red Sox cut their deficit to 5-4 with three runs in the fourth before Granderson hit a two-run homer in the fifth. Cano and Martin added solo shots in the sixth and seventh.

Cano fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle when he grounded out in the eighth, but went 3 for 4 and raised his batting average at Fenway Park to .465 (20 for 43) since the start of the 2010 season.

The Red Sox began a 10-game homestand Friday with a win after going 0-6 on the road, their worst start to a season since 0-8 in 1945.

They reverted to form on Saturday.

The Yankees went ahead 2-0 in the second on an error by shortstop Jed Lowrie, a double by Cano, a run-scoring groundout by Nick Swisher and an RBI double by Eric Chavez, his first hit with New York.

Boston got within 2-1 in the third when Dustin Pedroia doubled, took third on a groundout and scored when Kevin Youkilis grounded to shortstop Derek Jeter. But New York increased that lead to 5-1 before Buchholz retired a batter in the third.

Granderson walked, Chavez doubled and Martin, who signed a $4 million, one-year contract in December as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit a three-run homer. Buchholz left the game after Jeter and Alex Rodriguez singled later in the third.

The Red Sox struck back with three runs in the fourth when Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a run-scoring force play and Pedroia hit a two-run double, but they didn’t score again.

The Yankees, meanwhile, added two in the fifth off reliever Felix Doubront when Granderson hit his second homer of the season after Swisher doubled. Cano added his second homer and Martin hit his third, both off former Yankee Alfredo Aceves.

NOTES: The Yankees have homered in seven of their eight games and have at least two homers in six of them. … Buchholz allowed four solo homers in his other appearance this year, a 5-1 loss at Texas in which he worked 6 1-3 innings. … Jim Calhoun, coach of the NCAA basketball champion Connecticut Huskies, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. … Pedroia had three doubles after getting three hits, including a homer on Friday.

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