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Beckett’s start went long way

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 19, 2011

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BALTIMORE - After pitching eight near-perfect innings against the Rays Sunday night, Josh Beckett followed his usual routine and went to the clubhouse to ice his arm and take a shower.

By the time he was done, Beckett was surprised the game was still going on. So he dressed in a makeshift uniform and went back to the bench to watch.

“I actually looked over at [Jon] Lester when I came out and I was like, ‘Man, this is a fun game.’ I didn’t realize then it was going to go that long,’’ Beckett said. “It was fun to be in a game like that.’’

It was certainly more fun for the Red Sox, who beat the Rays, 1-0, in 16 innings. Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single was the difference in a game that lasted 5 hours 44 minutes and ended just before 2 a.m.

Beckett allowed just one infield hit, in the first inning. He retired 22 straight before leaving. The five relievers who followed gave up two hits over eight innings. Rays batters were 3 of 50 on the night with one walk and 13 strikeouts.

“Josh led the way,’’ said catcher Jason Varitek, who at 39 caught all 210 pitches. “Josh had a really good mix of his pitches. We stuck with a good mix and that set a tone for setting up hitters later in the ballgame.’’

The Sox had just five hits (three by Pedroia) but found a way to win despite leaving 17 runners on base.

“Our guys did a good job,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “That’s as much enthusiasm as we’ve had in a long time. I think maybe sometimes those things can be good.’’

Beckett did not get the victory but lowered his earned run average to 2.12. He also reported that his left knee, which limited him to five innings in his previous start, gave him no trouble.

“Everything was fine,’’ he said. “I’m just glad we found a way to win.’’

Suspension begins David Ortiz dropped the appeal of his four-game suspension when Major League Baseball offered him a three-game suspension that started yesterday.

Baltimore reliever Kevin Gregg accepted the same deal. Ortiz and Gregg came to blows July 8 at Fenway Park. The righthander threw three pitches inside at Ortiz and then yelled at him when he popped up the fourth pitch. Ortiz then charged the mound.

“I found out [yesterday] morning. It happened and I’ve got to take it like a man. They told us and we agreed and that’s about it,’’ Ortiz said.

Ortiz can work out and take batting practice with the team but cannot be in the dugout or clubhouse during games.

“Doing what I did wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m going to be punished for that like anyone else. You try and get it over with,’’ he said.

Ortiz said he preferred the suspension start now rather than go through with an appeal that probably would have produced the same result.

“I don’t want to go over the same thing again,’’ he said.

The Sox have Thursday off, so Ortiz will go four days without playing. His timing at the plate could get thrown off.

“It won’t help it,’’ he said. “I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m supposed to do and not put too much in my head.’’

Monday for Lester Lester will come off the disabled list to start Monday’s game against Kansas City. Francona misspoke over the weekend when he said Lester was starting on Tuesday.

Lester threw a bullpen session yesterday and is scheduled for a longer session tomorrow.

There is positive news regarding Clay Buchholz, who threw from 120 feet before the game and soon could throw off a mound. He has been out since June 17 with a bad back. Given the length of his layoff, it will take at least three weeks before Buchholz is ready to return.

Crawford returns Carl Crawford was back in the lineup, batting sixth and playing left field. It was his first game since June 17 when he strained his left hamstring.

“I feel good, in terms of movements, I feel like myself. I’m comfortable with the way things are,’’ said Crawford, who played two rehab games for Triple A Pawtucket.

Crawford said he is looking at his stint on the DL as a chance to restart his season. He went 2 for 5 last night to raise his average to .246, and contributed an RBI single during the Sox’ eight-run eighth inning.

Weiland’s turn Rookie Kyle Weiland will start tonight. He lasted only four innings against the Orioles July 10, giving up six runs on eight hits. Francona is expecting more the second time around. “He’s a pretty level-headed kid. His eyes were a little big that day, but I think he kind of gets it,’’ the manager said . . . Infielder Drew Sutton was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for Crawford on the roster . . . Lefthander Franklin Morales pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the side. He’s thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings over his last eight outings, giving up only one hit. “He’s throwing the ball free and easy and he’s throwing strikes,’’ Francona said. “It’s a good option because you can let him face righties, too, because his stuff is good enough.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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