SOX LOSE FOURTH STRAIGHT (10:28, END 9, 4-2 RANGERS)
The Sox did not go down without some fight. Bay walked with one out and stole second. Drew struck out looking, and with two outs Lowell flared a single to center, scoring Bay and bringing the tying run to the plate. But Varitek grounded to third, and the game ended after 2 hours, 26 minutes.
The Sox lost their fourth straight for the first time this season, dropped to second place by a full game, and wasted a very good, eight-inning start by Beckett. The Sox managed five hits and their offensive slump extended one more night. They have scored 12 runs in the five games since the All-Star break, in which they are 1-4.
BECKET CLOSES IT OUT (10:26, END 8, 4-1 RANGERS)
Unless the Red Sox can score three runs, Beckett will have a sour complete game. The Rangers tacked on one more on a Hamilton RBI single. Lowrie had made a nice play, fielding a ground ball and then gunning down Andrus at the plate for the second out. Alas, Hamilton drove home Young to score a run, anyway.
The Yankees have won, 8-4. They're up a half game for now, and might be three outs away from going up a full game.
GOOD O'DAY (10:14, MID 8, 3-1 RANGERS)
The Sox are steaming toward their fourth straight loss -- which would be a season first -- because they can't score any runs. The top of their lineup just went down in order. Ellsbury flied weakly to center, Pedroia flied to deeper center, and Youkilis flied to right. Not a pretty night for the Sox with three outs to go. Beckett remains in the game, and C.J. Wilson is warming for Texas. He'll probably come on for the ninth.
O'DAY ENTERS (10:07, END 7, 3-1 RANGERS)
Beckett struck out Saltalamacchia to end the inning. The Sox will face Darren O'Day, trying to score at least two runs with six outs remaining. Ellsbury leads off the inning.
Also, the Sox had Daniel Bard warming during last inning.
RANGERS ADD A RUN (10:04, BOT 7, 3-1 RANGERS)
Murphy's one-out sacrifice fly to left gave the Rangers a bit more breathing room. To start the inning, Jones doubled with a line drive over the head of Lowell. Blalock lined a ball to right that Drew charged and seemed to have a chance to catch, but he let the ball in front of him for a single rather than risking a dive, a questionable play that put runners on first and third.
Beckett struck out Byrd. Murphy lofted a ball to left, not too deep and not too shallow. Bay charged and fired, but his throw sailed a bit right, forcing Lowell to cut the ball off and make a quick throw home. It was on target, but a split second late. Jones slid home with the Rangers' third run.
WASTED CHANCE (9:55, MID 7, 2-1 RANGERS)
As quickly as a scoring chance materialized, the Sox let it slip away. Varitek struck out swinging, and Lowrie popped to the left side of the infield. Beckett is back out to start the seventh. They play "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" during the seventh inning stretch here.
SOMETHING BREWING? (9:51, TOP 7, 2-1 RANGERS)
Bay started the inning on a promising note by drawing a walk off Jennings. Drew grounded to second, which pushed Bay to second base. After a long at-bat, Lowell walked on a low 3-2 pitch. Jason Grilli is warming up for Texas, and Varitek is up with two on and one out.
MOVING ALONG (9:40, END 6, 2-1 RANGERS)
Beckett has kept the Sox in the game despite their lack of offense. He allowed a single to Michael Young with one out after striking out Kinsler again. But he induced a grounder by Hamilton to second. Pedroia charged at Young, who paused, and threw to first, starting the standard 4-6-3-4 double play.
Reliever Jason Jennings, a righty, has replaced Hunter. He'll begin by facing Bay. Hunter threw only 85 pitches and allowed four hits.
YOUKILIS STRANDED (9:34, MID 6, 2-1 RANGERS)
Ortiz popped to short, ending the mini-rally. Beckett is back out having thrown only 65 pitches through five. Much like his last start, a complete game against the Royals, Beckett has been efficient.
SIGNS OF LIFE (9:30, TOP 6, 2-1 RANGERS)
Pedroia and Youkilis put together a small, two-out rally. To start the inning, Lowrie flied to right and Ellsbury flied to left. Pedroia fought off a bushel of pitches before slapping a 3-2 pitch to right, the Red Sox' first hit since Lowrie's double in the third. Youkilis made sure the hit didn't go to waste. He ripped an opposite-field double into the gap, allowing Pedroia to score without a throw. Ortiz is up now.
LUCKY 13 (9:18, END 5, 2-0 RANGERS)
Beckett has now retired 13 straight after he polished off the fifth by fielding Andrus's tapper back to him. Of course, it won't matter if the Sox' offense can't get something going. Lowrie, Ellsbury, and Pedroia are due up.
STILL NOTHING (9:14, MID 5, 2-0 RANGERS)
The Sox still have two hits and no runs off Hunter. Drew drilled a hanging curve to the warning track in right center, but Byrd made a running catch in front of the fence. Lowell flied out down the rightfield line. Varitek swung through a high changeup to strike out.
BECKETT HEATING UP (9:09, END 4, 2-0 RANGERS)
Beckett has retired 10 straight after cruising through the fourth. Jones flied to left, Blalock popped up, and Byrd struck out swinging. Beckett's fastball has been hovering around 94 tonight.
NOTHING NEW (9:00, MID 4, 2-0 RANGERS)
Another inning, another zero. Youkilis flied to right, Ortiz grounded to second, and Bay popped to foul ground behind first. Kinsler made another great play, crashing into the wall and reaching into the stands to make the catch, the third out.
QUICK ONE FOR BECKETT (8:54, END 3, 2-0 RANGERS)
Beckett retired the top of the Rangers lineup in order, including a strikeout of Hamilton, his second, on three pitches.
YOUTH IN REVOLT (8:50, MID 3, 2-0 RANGERS)
The Sox have had trouble against rookie starters lately, and Hunter could be another problem. The Sox have no runs after three, despite Lowrie smoking a double to right with one out, his best swing by far as a lefthanded batter since his return. Lowrie moved to third when Ellsbury dribbled one to first, but Pedroia flied to center.
BECKETT SETTLES IN (8:42, END 2, 2-0 RANGERS)
After his rocky first, Beckett looked more like himself. David Murphy popped foul to Lowell. Beckett fired a 94-mph, high fastball past Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Elvis Andrus, a late replacement for Omar Vizquel at shortstop, chopped a ball over Beckett's leap, and Pedroia made the play by the bag.
BAY STRANDED (8:36, END 2, 2-0 RANGERS)
Bay never made it past first. Drew flied to deep center, and Mike Lowell popped behind first. Kinsler made an excellent over-the-shoulder basket catch in foul ground, and the Sox continued their offensive impotence.
GETTING GREEDY (8:31, TOP 2, 2-0 RANGERS)
The Red Sox are getting creative in ways to make outs. David Ortiz led off the second with a missile into the rightfield corner. As Byrd tracked it down, Ortiz made the turn at first and hustled toward second. Byrd's one-hop throw beat him by several steps. If there's one thing the Sox don't need to do right now, it's give away outs. Jason Bay walked, J.D. Drew is up, one out.
BAD START FOR BECKETT (8:26, END 1, 2-0 RANGERS)
This isn't the Beckett we're used to seeing after a Red Sox loss. After an inning, he's already down two. Michael Young lined to right. Beckett got Josh Hamilton swinging at a high, outside fastball for strike three. Beckett walked Andruw Jones. With Hank Blalock batting, both Kinsler and Jones caught Beckett not paying attention to them and took off, stealing third and second easily. Blalock made him with pay with a sharp, two-run single through the right side. Marlon Byrd chopped to short to end the inning.
MORE OF THE SAME (8:15, BOT 1, 0-0)
Not a promising first for the slumping Sox, who were retired in order by 23-year-old rookie Tommy Hunter. Jacoby Ellsbury popped up to shallow right, Dustin Pedroia lined to right, and Kevin Youkilis struck out trying to check his swing on a curve in the dirt.
The Sox can't get anything going lately, but manager Terry Francona went with the same lineup tonight as last night. Any thought of changing it?
"I'm open," Francona said. "If you gave me a lineup that would tell me we'd score, I'd write it. I don't think that every game we don't hit, I'm going to change the batting order. I can't think of a lineup if I'd have made out last night where we'd have scored more runs."
And more bad news: Ian Kinsler led off with a double down the third base line against Josh Beckett.