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Beckett takes the blame

Ace says two-out hits are ‘unacceptable’

By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / July 22, 2009

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ARLINGTON, Texas - The Red Sox offense seemed an obvious culprit for last night’s 4-2 loss. But while the teammates who had given him dismal support filed out of the clubhouse, Josh Beckett, the only pitcher the Sox needed, stood in front of his locker and demanded the blame.

“This one definitely falls on me,’’ he said. “I think the right person got the loss.’’

Beckett fired his third complete game of the season, setting a career best, and allowed four runs on seven hits and striking out seven in eight innings. But for the first time this season following a Red Sox defeat, Beckett took the loss. After the game, as he buttoned his white shirt and clasped his “JB’’ cufflinks, he focused on that fact.

Primarily, Beckett seethed over allowing runs with two outs. Three of the Rangers’ four runs scored with Beckett one pitch from exiting the inning, including two in the first. He traced his entire night - and Boston’s whole fate - to one pitch, a two-out single by Hank Blalock. In Beckett’s view, the Sox never recovered from that blow.

“I think it was lost at about [8:30] in the first inning,’’ Beckett said. “The two-out runs, it’s just demoralizing to everybody, especially to a pitcher. They did it three times to me tonight. It’s unacceptable.’’

Beckett, of course, received scant help from his offense, a common obstacle for the Sox pitching staff lately. “Not only Beckett,’’ David Ortiz said. “Everyone.’’ On Sunday, Jon Lester allowed three runs in seven innings and took the loss, the Sox able to score only one run against Roy Halladay. Last night, though, Beckett considered his lineup blameless.

“This loss is mine,’’ he said. “I lost it in the first inning. I can’t go out there and give up two runs with two outs in the first inning. It’s demoralizing to a team.’’

After his rocky first, Beckett (11-4) morphed back into the pitcher who has made himself into a Cy Young contender. He retired 13 consecutive batters and the Rangers didn’t threaten again until the seventh, when Beckett’s bugaboo resurfaced.

“We just seemed to make a mistake at the wrong time,’’ catcher Jason Varitek said. “He kept us in the game. We just couldn’t get those couple runs to get us going.’’

In the seventh, Beckett allowed the Rangers to move ahead by two runs after allowing a sacrifice fly to David Murphy. In the eighth, Elvis Andrus moved to third with one out, and Beckett nearly squirmed loose with no damage. Shortstop Jed Lowrie threw home and started a rundown that eliminated Andrus, while Michael Young advanced to second on the fielder’s choice.

Josh Hamilton then laced a single to center, and Beckett crouched and yelled into his glove. Coming off the field one batter later, Beckett covered his mouth with his glove and screamed into it something presumably unfit for a PG-13 movie.

“I was making pitches with two outs,’’ Beckett said. “I didn’t do that when I gave up the two runs. It’s pretty simple.’’

The Red Sox had been 8-1 in games Beckett pitched after a loss, and that one defeat came May 23, when Beckett pitched eight innings without allowing an earned run against the Mets, who rallied in the ninth. Beckett made himself the stopper, a title he cared little about.

“I’ve never said anything about that,’’ Beckett said. “I don’t care if we’ve won five in a row or lost 100. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m trying to win.’’

Maybe he should have won last night. But he didn’t, and for that he blamed only himself.

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