boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Beckett wasn't in command

With his control lacking, the batters were in charge

There was one word Josh Beckett had for his mistake pitches last night, and it wasn't suitable for a family publication. Nevertheless, Beckett -- a notoriously harsh critic of himself -- was not afraid to use it. Not in an angry tone, rather a disgusted one.

"They hit some, like I said, [expletive] pitches," Beckett said. "I can't think of any other word that I really want to say for the pitches that they hit. They weren't good pitches. Good pitches don't get hit."

And last night, his did, in a 7-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies that ended his winning streak at nine games to open the season, five short of Roger Clemens's franchise record in 1986.

Though Beckett may have veered into hyperbole, both about good pitches not getting hit and about his performance, it was hard to argue with his inability to set down a young Rockies lineup full of good fastball hitters.

"I think command within the strike zone," Beckett said of his biggest problem last night. "One-one pitches. You dictate a pitch on whether you're ahead or behind. Just didn't make a high percentage of them. That's what it comes down to."

With control of Beckett's offspeed pitches wavering, the Rockies sat on his fastball, and rarely missed. So his streak ended in resounding fashion after he allowed six runs and 10 hits, both season highs, in five innings, including a grand slam into the Monster seats by Garrett Atkins.

"We got behind with some breaking balls and weren't able to make pitches at different times, but really, it just comes down to one pitch to Atkins," said catcher Jason Varitek. "We gave them four runs right there. That's it. Outside of that, I think he kept us in the game.

"We just weren't able to get enough [offspeed pitches] across to equalize that."

From the first inning, when Kaz Matsui scored on Todd Helton's single, to the third, when Atkins followed a single by Matsui, a double by Matt Holliday, and a walk to Helton with his fourth career grand slam, Beckett was in a major hole. He threw 100 pitches, leaving with the Sox trailing, 6-0 (Holliday added a solo home run in the fourth), and, given their current slump, with little hope of coming back.

It was the opposite of the consistently impressive performances Beckett had been providing, proving to be their most trustworthy starter as Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling, and Tim Wakefield experienced ups and downs.

It marked the first time this season, other than the day he was removed from a game against Baltimore with an avulsion on his finger, that Beckett failed to pitch at least six innings.

"He gave up a lot more hits than he's been giving up," manager Terry Francona said. "He had good stuff. A lot of their guys are young and they're good fastball hitters and they've made us pay the last couple nights when we get in fastball counts, or they've laid off offspeed pitches enough to get a fastball, which is maturity on their part."

Like the maturity Beckett has shown all season, in his diversified repertoire and taking blame for last night's outing, coupled with passing the credit to his teammates for his 9-0 start.

"It was a fun run," Beckett said. "Like I said, my last start, there is no way I take all the credit. I've got to give a lot of the credit for these last two months to Jason Varitek, my offense, and my defense. If you're not striking everybody out, you need those eight guys behind you."

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES