Red Sox can't withstand Beckett's uneven start

Red Sox can't withstand Beckett's uneven start

Red Sox can't withstand Beckett's uneven start
NEW YORK -- Quiet with the bats and not quite good enough on the mound, the Red Sox finished a disappointing road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Josh Beckett gave the Red Sox six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs. He walked three and struck out six, throwing 98 pitches.

The righty is 0-4 in his last six starts and last earned a win on July 15. For the season, Beckett is 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA.

"I've got to keep working," Beckett said. "The good thing I have right now is health, and you move forward with that."

In truth, Beckett's performance would have been good enough to win on some nights. But not on this one, when the Red Sox -- aside from a homer by Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh -- were stifled by Yankees righty Hiroki Kuroda.

"He's been great," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said of Kuroda. "He's been throwing like this for quite some time. Boston has a good offensive team, and I don't know how many starts in a row this is for him, but he's been pretty much in control the entire time."

The Sox went 4-6 on the road trip to fall a season-high 7 1/2 games back in the American League Wild Card standings.

At 59-63, Boston has 40 games left and would need to go on a big run to reach the postseason.

"We're in the same place basically we were -- one game different than we were coming into this game," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "Like I said, we've got to get it going."

Valentine's team has an off-day on Monday to regroup before opening a seven-game homestand against the Angels and Royals.

Boston is 13-19 since star slugger David Ortiz went down with an injury to his right Achilles tendon. Ortiz hopes he can return during the homestand.

"It's difficult [to watch]," said Ortiz. "It's difficult. We want to win right now pretty much in the last quarter of the season. Seeing the Wild Card [standings] every day, definitely, we've got to be able to win some games. Yesterday was really good. The day before, we struggled a little bit; today as well. Hopefully, things change at some point."

The Yankees got off to a good start on Sunday against Beckett as Jeter led off the bottom of the first with a double. With two down, Curtis Granderson hammered an RBI double to right, making it 1-0.

It wasn't as if Beckett was getting belted around the park, but New York chipped away against him. In the third, Jeter doubled and Nick Swisher walked. Then, the Yankees executed a double-steal, putting Jeter in position to score on a wild pitch by Beckett that made it 2-0.

The wild pitch was a breaking ball that exploded off the mask of catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

"You know, I didn't see where it bounced," said Valentine. "It looked like it took a pretty wicked bounce. Did it hit the corner of the plate and then hit his mask? I mean, he went down. His curveball was good tonight. It had good break. That one was just a little short."

From there, Ichiro Suzuki took over.

He belted a solo shot to right with two outs in the fourth, putting Boston in a three-run hole.

And in the sixth, Ichiro did it again, hitting one high and deep to right to make it 4-0. With Yankees fans roaring "Ichiro, Ichiro, Ichiro," Suzuki came out for a curtain call.

"He's got seven home runs," Valentine said. "He's a special player. I don't know that he's a power hitter now. He's one of the good ones to ever play the game."

Kuroda had a two-hit shutout going through six, but the Red Sox got a run back in the seventh when Gonzalez ripped his homer to right. It was Gonzalez's second homer in two days and his 15th of the season.

But the Red Sox got no momentum from it, getting just one baserunner for the rest of the game.

Without Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks, who's out for the season with a broken right wrist, Boston's offense scored three runs or fewer in six of the 10 games on the trip.

"Obviously, it would be better to see David," Valentine said. "You know, we lost Will there at the beginning. We've been remaking the bottom of the lineup and putting a little strain maybe on the guys in the middle. They're having really good at-bats. Everyone's having good at-bats. We're just not stringing them together and not getting any extra-base hits."

Meanwhile, the standings are what they are.

"I think we've just got to go play one game at a time; we can't worry about that stuff," said Beckett. "We need a lot of things to happen now. We've got play better and we've got to have some teams fall down."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.