6 runs, 7 hits
Beckett shines again as Sox dump Yankees
NEW YORK — It was at Yankee Stadium just shy of a year ago when Josh Beckett was pulled in the fifth inning, having injured his back. Two months on the disabled list followed. From there, a bad season only got worse.
It led to questions about whether Beckett’s time as a frontline starter had come to an end, a theory bolstered when manager Terry Francona didn’t start him until the fourth game of the season.
Beckett has instead looked like the ace he once was.
Back in the Bronx, the righthander’s revitalization continued last night with six brilliant innings as the Red Sox slammed the Yankees, 6-0, before a sold-out crowd of 48,790.
Beckett (3-1) allowed four hits, all singles, with two walks and nine strikeouts. He has thrown 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, dropping his earned run average to 1.75.
“We had a lot of confidence in him. We always have,’’ Francona said. “He worked hard. He said at the end of last year that’d come back with a vengeance and I think he has.’’
Adrian Gonzalez’s three-run home run in the seventh inning off CC Sabathia (3-3) helped secure the win for Beckett, who has not allowed a run in 14 innings against the Yankees this season. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had two hits to raise his average to .301, added a two-run double.
“I’m making pitches when I need to and guys are playing great defense. That’s really it, there’s no secret to it,’’ said Beckett, who made up for lacking a good curveball with an effective changeup and his best cut fastball of the year.
The Sox, 4-1 against the Yankees this season, will have Jon Lester on the mound tonight as they try for the sweep and to get to .500 for the first time this season.
For the Yankees, it was a night of pinstriped turmoil on and off the field.
Jorge Posada, one of the team’s respected veterans, was scratched from the lineup 40 minutes before the first pitch after reportedly telling manager Joe Girardi that he refused to bat ninth. That led to an impromptu in-game press conference for general manager Brian Cashman in the back of the Yankee Stadium press box.
Once the game started, the Yankees lost their fourth straight and never came close to scoring. They have dropped 8 of 11 overall.
Sabathia allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks, falling to the Sox for the second time this season.
The Sox appeared to have Sabathia in trouble in the first inning. Ellsbury was hit by a pitch and then took third on a soft single to center by Dustin Pedroia (3 for 4).
But poor situational hitting, an issue with the Sox all season, was displayed again. Gonzalez, an RBI machine for the last few weeks, struck out swinging at a high fastball.
Kevin Youkilis then struck out on a slider, leaving him 0 for 11 with eight strikeouts with a runner on third and fewer than two outs. David Ortiz had the final chance and struck out on a slider in the dirt. In a span of 13 pitches, Sabathia ended the threat.
Beckett had a similar inning. After singles by Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, he struck out Mark Teixeira, got Alex Rodriguez to foul to first base, and struck out Robinson Cano.
Both pitchers got on a roll from there.
Sabathia had retired 12 straight going into the fifth inning when Jed Lowrie singled to right field. Carl Crawford followed with a single up the middle with one out. Sabathia then inexplicably walked Jason Varitek on four pitches.
Ellsbury made him pay for that mistake by ripping a slider into left-center for a two-run double.
The Yankees decided to intentionally walk Pedroia, who has been slumping, in order to get to the scalding-hot Gonzalez.
But it made sense given that righthanders were hitting .280 against Sabathia coming into the game and lefties were at .182.
The strategy paid off as Gonzalez broke his bat on the second pitch, a sinker, and grounded into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the inning.
The Sox added to their lead in the seventh. Mike Cameron drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Varitek lined an RBI single into right field to make it 3-0. It was Varitek’s first RBI against a lefthanded pitcher this season.
With two outs, Pedroia kept the inning alive with a single. This time, with first base occupied, the Yankees faced Gonzalez and he lined a fastball over the wall in right field.
Hitless to that point, Gonzalez told Francona he would look for a ball inside and take a swing like Ichiro Suzuki. He got that pitch, rotated his hips early, and flicked the ball over the fence.
“He amazes me. When you say you’re going to do it and you do it, that’s pretty impressive,’’ Francona said.
The home run was the fifth in four games for Gonzalez and his seventh in eight games. He leads the American League with 34 RBIs.
It’s no big deal, apparently.
“I usually go through these stretches once or twice a year,’’ Gonzalez said.
That was the night for Sabathia and Girardi, who was ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters after he made a trip to the mound.