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Yankees 8, Red Sox 4

Smackdown

Yankees hit 5 HRs vs. Beckett

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / August 24, 2009

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There was little for Josh Beckett to say. Little he needed to say.

“It was a pretty good [butt] whipping, to sum it up,’’ Beckett said. “[Butt] whipping for me.’’

His eight runs allowed in eight innings against the Yankees last night added up to an 8-4 loss for the Red Sox. Five of his pitches left the ballpark, a career high, two off the bat of Hideki Matsui. Four were solo blasts and one was a two-run shot.

So for the second straight outing, Beckett wasn’t quite up to the task as the Sox dropped the series to New York in front of 38,008 at Fenway Park. They are one game up in the wild-card race, although they dropped a game to the victorious Rangers.

“They just beat us,’’ left fielder Jason Bay said. “Early on, we were the better team when we played them. Right now, they’re the better team. Over the course of a season, I think it’s all about how it’s not always the best team winning, it’s the better team at the time. Right now they’re definitely better than we are.’’

His outing was “frustrating,’’ said Beckett, who said he had no physical issues. “You can’t give up seven and eight runs every time you go out there. Not going to be here very long if you do that.

“It felt all right sometimes. Obviously whenever they jump on them, the result’s not great. But bottom line is eight runs in eight innings is not going to get it done.’’

Combined with his start against Toronto last Tuesday, Beckett has allowed 15 runs on 18 hits over 13 1/3 innings. His ERA had swollen by more than half a run, from 3.10 to 3.65, by the time Matsui circled the bases for the second time, this solo shot coming in the eighth after Beckett had strung together nine straight outs.

Beckett became just the third Red Sox pitcher since 1954 to allow five homers in a game, along with Dennis Eckersley and Tim Wakefield (twice).

“A little bit like the last outing,’’ Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He’s been struggling to get that good two-seam movement. This team [Yankees] doesn’t need help elevating the ball, they can do it on their own. And the fastball, especially early, was a little bit flat. Early they were hunting first-pitch fastball, and they got a couple of them.’’

Beckett threw 120 pitches, tying a season high set May 16, in a game that hardly met the fanfare or expectations. Francona explained that Beckett came out for the eighth because he had been on that out streak, and because Manny Delcarmen had warmed up so much. Takashi Saito worked the ninth.

Before the time of the first pitch had been announced in the press box, Derek Jeter took one out to the Sox bullpen. Then, on the first pitch of the second, Matsui took his first one out beyond the Sox bullpen. And just that quickly, the Yankees were up, 2-0, on the pitcher who had yet to lose in his home ballpark.

After the Sox closed the gap to 5-3 in their half of the fourth, Alex Rodriguez opened it up again. Six pitches into his fifth-inning at-bat, with a full count, Rodriguez lashed a homer into the first row of Monster seats, where it bounced off the hands of a fan. It marked the second straight game in which Beckett had given up at least seven runs, and this time no one could fault a hasty change of catcher before the game.

Beckett has allowed 10 homers in his last three starts, giving up two, three, and five. It took until his 17th start of the season, July 7, for Beckett to give up his first 10 homers of the year.

The Sox scored four runs over the first six innings against CC Sabathia. But it wasn’t nearly enough.

“These are humbling deals,’’ Beckett said. “That was a good [butt]-whooping I got out there. That’s the only words I got to sum it up.

“I’m still confident in the guys. Today was on me. The guys did what they were supposed to do. They went out there and got, I think, 10 hits. You can’t expect them to score 11 runs every time, which was basically what it would have taken for us to win, given the way I pitched.’’

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