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Another rough day for Beckett

By Alex Prewitt
Globe Correspondent / August 9, 2012
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Josh Beckett had plenty of problems keeping his pitches down. The Rangers had no issues hitting them up and out of Fenway Park.

The oft-criticized Red Sox righthander turned in another enigmatic performance Wednesday afternoon. He received a no-decision after allowing a season-high eight runs on eight hits — including three homers — in five innings of Boston’s 10-9 loss to Texas, but Beckett’s postgame self-assessment was again decisively negative.

“Just too many pitches down the middle of the plate,” Beckett said. “Everything was up. Even when I was on the corners, it was still up. Control, in that matter, yeah, not necessarily control outside the zone. Inside the zone, I felt like everything was elevated.”

His first-inning ERA has ballooned to 10.42. Ian Kinsler led off with a nine-pitch walk and stole second, moving to third on an Elvis Andrus single. Josh Hamilton then smacked a two-run triple and scored on an Adrian Beltre sacrifice fly.

Beckett settled down, retiring five straight before Kinsler led off the third with a hit-by-pitch that replays showed never actually hit him. Beckett stranded two runners in scoring position by getting Hamilton, Beltre, and Nelson Cruz in order.

But things unraveled in the fifth. Mitch Moreland led off with a homer, and Hamilton later cranked a two-run shot, his 30th of the season. Both were off cutters. Manager Bobby Valentine kept Beckett around for the sixth, and got a two-run homer from trade-deadline acquisition Geovany Soto in response.

“He made some good pitches and I guess some not-so-good pitches,” Valentine said. “He finished the fifth inning pretty good. The bottom of the order, I thought he could maybe squeak one out. Sure wasn’t expecting Soto to hit a home run.”

In hindsight, Beckett said, he needed to make an adjustment, to get his fingers on top of the ball to prevent it from sailing high on hitters. It never happened.

“The ball that Hamilton hit, if it’s down a little bit more, it’s probably not a home run,” Beckett said. “He did a good job of getting to it, but it was still up. The ball that Soto hit, it was up and down over the middle of the plate.”

Only Boston’s four-run seventh inning got Beckett off the hook for his 10th loss of 2012.

This start was pushed back after Beckett had back spasms July 31 against Detroit, so he had seven days to heal. The extra time did little to curb the frustration or the poor results.

In fact, the more rest Beckett gets, the worse he is when he finally makes a start. On five or fewer days of rest, Beckett’s ERA is 3.62. On six or more, it is 10.13.

“I don’t know,” Beckett said when asked about that statistical discrepancy. “Obviously the numbers aren’t good, but I don’t feel any different. I felt strong out there. Healthwise, there was no problems.”

Red Sox fans saw plenty of problems with Beckett’s outing. They booed him off the field when Valentine replaced him with Clayton Mortensen in the sixth.

“I didn’t even listen to that,” Dustin Pedroia said. “We’re all in this together. We support Josh. He’s our teammate. We’re going to do all we can to get his back.

“There’s going to be times where I have tough times and they might boo me. We’ve just got to go out there and play as hard as we can, and do it together.”

Beckett, for his part, was stone-faced when asked about the boos that have become far more commonplace for him this season than successful outings.

“Can’t control that,” he said.

But does it bother you?

“Can’t control it.”

Beckett meant the crowd’s reaction. The double meaning concerning his pitches Wednesday was obvious.

Alex Prewitt can be reached at aprewitt@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt.

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