As usual, Josh Beckett kept throwing strikes. For a change, the Boston Red Sox never stopped hitting.
Beckett became the American League’s first 12-game winner and Boston snapped out of a slump with 14 hits in an 8-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
“We’ll take runs any way we can get them,” Boston manager Terry Francona said, “but when it’s spread around it gives you more opportunities.”
Beckett (12-4) allowed just three runners in the first five innings and led 6-0 before giving up single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth. He struck out 10 and left after Scott Hairston‘s leadoff triple in the eighth. The bullpen extended its scoreless streak to 24 innings since the All-Star break.
In his last five starts at Fenway Park, Beckett is 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA and 36 strikeouts while allowing 23 hits and four walks. For the season, he is 7-0 in 10 starts at home.
“Just developing a routine and sticking to it helps me carry one start over to the next,” he said.
Dustin Pedroia homered and drove in two runs and Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits for the Red Sox, who entered with just 25 runs and a .215 batting average in their nine games since the break. They were 3-6 in those games and, despite Monday’s win, remained 2 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Boston had at least one hit in each inning and finished with its highest total since it had 16 hits on June 30 in Baltimore.
“The biggest thing tonight is we just kept putting pressure on them every single inning,” Ellsbury said. “When we have a lineup like we do, it’s bound to happen.”
Oakland rookie Trevor Cahill (6-9) allowed a career-high 10 hits and gave up a homer for the seventh straight game.
“I was getting behind guys,” he said. “It’s always tough pitching (from) behind and they can sit on pitches.”
The Athletics couldn’t do that against Beckett.
He threw strikes on more than 80 percent of his pitches in the first five innings and didn’t get to a three-ball count until the sixth.
“That’s really a good lesson for a lot of our young pitchers to watch the way he pitches,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He’s aggressive. He mixed in his sinker and the breaking ball but he did throw them all for strikes.”
Pedroia drove in Boston’s first two runs with his fifth homer of the season in the first and a sacrifice fly after Ellsbury’s triple in the third.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Pedroia, who is batting .403 in his last 17 games. “We’ve just got to continue to go out there and grind out at-bats, get the pitchers’ pitch counts up and get in the other team’s bullpen.”
The Red Sox made it 5-0 in the fourth. Jason Bay walked, took second on J.D. Drew‘s single and scored on Adam LaRoche‘s second double of the game. Jason Varitek and Ellsbury followed with RBI singles.
Bay, who had been in a 7-for-43 slump, singled in a run in the fifth. It was his 73rd RBI of the year but only his second in 15 games.
Jed Lowrie doubled in Boston’s last two runs in the seventh.
Oakland finally broke through in the sixth. Adam Kennedy and Orlando Cabrera singled with one out. Beckett then struck out Hairston for the third time before loading the bases with his only walk, to Jack Cust. Kurt Suzuki had an RBI single but Ryan Sweeney looked at a third strike to end the inning.
Eric Patterson added a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Suzuki drove in Oakland’s final run with a groundout off Daniel Bard in the eighth.
Suzuki has hit safely in all 19 of his games against Boston. … The Red Sox plan to retire Jim Rice’s No. 14 before Tuesday night’s game against Oakland. Rice was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. The team already has retired the numbers of six of its former players – Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Carlton Fisk. … Pedroia’s homer was the 21st allowed this year by Cahill, matching last year’s team high of Greg Smith. … Oakland is 1-9 in its last 10 games in Boston.