Beckett Matches Clemens, Closes In On The Babe

Thursday, May 3rd 2007, 7:51 am
By: News On 6

Josh Beckett is closing in on the Babe.

Beckett became the first Boston Red Sox pitcher to win his first six starts since Roger Clemens in 1991, and is just two behind the team record shared by Babe Ruth and two others.

``I know he was a great hitter,'' Beckett said. ``Any time you're mentioned in the same point as Babe Ruth, when you didn't give up one of his milestone home runs, is obviously a tremendous feat.''

Beckett (6-0) allowed three runs and six hits with seven strikeouts and two walks to help the Red Sox beat Oakland 6-4 on Wednesday night.

He became the eighth Red Sox pitcher to win at least his first six starts. The team record of eight is shared by Ruth in 1917, Dave Ferriss in 1945 and Roger Moret in 1973.

The defeat was costly for the A's, who also lost Mike Piazza to a right shoulder injury that will sideline him for four-to-six weeks.

Piazza suffered the injury when he dived toward third base in the sixth and collided with third baseman Mike Lowell.

``My whole arm went numb,'' said Piazza, who suffered a strained AC joint. ``It's a huge setback. It's just another challenge to try to get by.''

Piazza went 2-for-3 and might have helped Oakland even more had he beaten Lowell to the bag.

``He was trying to avoid the tag. He just slid headfirst,'' Lowell said.

In other AL games, it was: Tampa Bay 4, Minnesota 3, 10 innings; Cleveland 7, Toronto 6, 11 innings; Detroit 3, Baltimore 2; Seattle 3, Chicago 2; Kansas City 3, Los Angeles 1; and the New York Yankees game at Texas was postponed by rain.

The win gave Boston a split of the two-game series after a 5-4 loss in 10 innings in a game in which Curt Schilling pitched well but Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save.

``I liked the fact that we saw Schilling and Beckett and Papelbon and they are some of the better pitchers in the game,'' Oakland manager Bob Geren said, ``and we had a chance to win both games.''

Beckett is the only pitcher with six wins this season, his second since Boston obtained him in a trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to Florida. The shortstop became the NL Rookie of the Year, while Beckett finished with a 5.01 ERA and allowed 36 homers, tied for second most in the majors, and was 16-13.

But this season, Beckett moved from the third-base side of the rubber to the middle and has relied more on an improved curveball and changeup after concentrating on his fastball in key situations last year.

Hideki Okajima, the AL rookie of the month for April, pitched the eighth, his 14th consecutive scoreless inning in 14 games. Mike Timlin pitched the ninth for his first save of the season but gave up an RBI single to Todd Walker.

Devil Rays 4, Twins 3, 10 innings

At St. Petersburg, Fla., pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro drove in the winning run with a grounder in the 10th after Tampa Bay rallied to tie in the ninth against Twins closer Joe Nathan.

The Devil Rays scored twice against Nathan, who blew his first save opportunity, on two-out RBI singles by Elijah Dukes and Ty Wigginton.

Carlos Pena had one-out infield single in the 10th off Matt Guerrier (0-1) that hit an overhanging catwalk and landed between first and second. Ben Zobrist pinch ran for Pena and appeared to be heading home with the game-winning run but stumbled rounding third on Brendan Harris' double and had stay at third.

Zobrist then scored on Navarro's grounder when he beat a throw to the plate by shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Al Reyes (1-0) pitched a scoreless 10th for Tampa Bay.

Indians 7, Blue Jays 6, 11 innings

At Cleveland, Travis Hafner dribbled an RBI double down the third-base line, out of the reach of Toronto's overshifted infield, and the Indians beat the Blue Jays.

With Toronto playing the Indians' powerful pull hitter to the right side, Hafner stuck out his bat and got enough of a low, outside pitch from Shaun Marcum (1-2) to send a slow roller toward third.

When the ball crept out of the dirt and onto the outfield grass, David Dellucci, who was on first after a broken-bat bloop single, was waved home by third-base coach Joel Skinner and scored easily to give Cleveland its ninth victory in 10 games.

Tom Mastny (2-0), the eighth and final pitcher available to manager Eric Wedge, pitched one inning.

Tigers 3, Orioles 2

At Detroit, Gary Sheffield went 4-for-4 with a home run and an RBI single, and Craig Monroe hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning to lead the Tigers past the Orioles.

The Tigers earned their first sweep of the year and have won a season-high four straight. Baltimore has lost four in a row and nine of 10.

Nate Robertson (3-1) gave up two runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings. Todd Jones worked a perfect ninth for his 10th save.

Steve Trachsel (1-3) gave up three runs and eight hits over seven innings.

Mariners 3, White Sox 2

At Seattle, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning and Miguel Batista gave up two runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings to lead Seattle to its seventh win in eight games.

Jose Guillen also homered and Raul Ibanez had an RBI double to help the Mariners send Chicago to its fourth consecutive loss.

Betancourt hit a 1-0 fastball into Seattle's bullpen beyond left field off rookie John Danks (0-4).

Batista (3-2) allowed solo homers to Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko but just three singles besides that against a lineup missing injured Jim Thome and Scott Podsednik.

Royals 3, Angels 1

At Kansas City, Mo., light-hitting Esteban German hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Royals snapped the Angels' four-game winning streak.

German had only three major league homers in 441 at-bats before taking Ervin Santana (2-4) over the wall in left for his first homer in 144 at-bats.

Jorge De La Rosa (3-2) went seven innings, giving up five hits and one run, with two strikeouts and a walk as the Royals won for just the third time in 10 games.

Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his fourth save.