Major League Baseball
Beckett's gem gets Sox off to good start
Major League Baseball

Beckett's gem gets Sox off to good start

Published Apr. 8, 2009 12:19 a.m. ET

AL MVP Dustin Pedroia and the Boston Red Sox are off to a fast start.

Pedroia homered on the second pitch he saw this season and Josh Beckett struck out 10 in seven innings of two-hit ball to lead the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday in a makeup of their rained-out opener.

Jason Varitek also homered for Boston in a rematch of last year's AL championship series, which the Rays won in seven games to advance to the franchise's first World Series.

Tampa Bay scored one run off Beckett and two in the eighth off Hideki Okajima before Justin Masterson pitched out of a jam and Jonathan Papelbon got three outs for the save.

James Shields gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks, striking out two in 5 1-3 innings as the AL champions opened their pennant defense completely overpowered by Beckett.

The Red Sox right-hander allowed a third-inning single to Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford's sixth-inning double to go with three walks. He struck out Gabe Gross on a 93 mph fastball to end the seventh.

Brisk weather replaced the steady downpour that forced the Red Sox to postpone Monday's game four hours before the scheduled first pitch. The sky was overcast but dry for the makeup, with the wind blowing out toward center.

The Red Sox changed the traditional baseline introductions by having their players come out of the stands, high-fiving fans on the way to the field. The Boston Pops took over the national anthem from singer Seal, who had been scheduled for Monday but couldn't stick around.

After the traditional fighter jet flyover, newly elected Hall of Famer Jim Rice drove out in a golf cart with U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The Massachusetts Democrat, who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, went to the mound with the help of a cane and bounced a short toss to Rice; (on the second try, he made it on a fly).

Beckett took care of the first three Rays before Pedroia came up with one out and homered over the Green Monster. Pedroia also walked to start the three-run third, scoring on J.D. Drew's groundout before Jason Bay's RBI single and Mike Lowell's run-scoring double.

But even more welcome for last year's AL wild-card winner was Varitek's homer around the Pesky Pole in the sixth. The catcher, who turns 37 on Saturday, is coming off the worst season of his career and a drawn-out negotiation with the Red Sox before signing a cut-rate deal for $5 million with options for 2010 that could make it worth as much as $10 million.

Varitek made his ninth straight opening-day start, most ever for a Red Sox catcher. Left fielder Carl Yastrzemski holds the franchise lead with 15.

Shields fell to 0-4 in four career appearances at Fenway Park.


Kennedy's grandfather, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, threw out the first pitch at the first major league game ever played at Fenway, on April 12, 1912. ... The makeup of Monday's rainout started at 4:06 p.m. as a nod to Ted Williams' batting average in 1941. ... Lowell has hit safely in all 10 of his opening-day appearances. ... Boston SS Julio Lugo, on the disabled list recovering from right knee surgery, was in the park for introductions. He's scheduled to report to extended spring training on Thursday. ... Former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler, now with the Rays, got a warm ovation when he was introduced.


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