- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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Beckett himself described it as a lack of execution at the most inopportune times.
In any case, the right-hander suffered the loss, dropping his record to 4-5 as the Detroit Tigers avoided a potential four-game sweep and defeated the Red Sox 7-3 on Thursday night at Fenway Park.
Beckett worked seven innings and allowed four runs on 10 hits with one walk and only one strikeout. He tossed 102 pitches (67 for strikes).
"It was a real competitive, battling outing," Valentine said. "He gave us a chance to win the game. I don't know that was his best stuff and it seemed like he didn't have his curveball until the sixth inning. He made some pretty good pitches and they hit a few of them for hits, but he did a good job of keeping them at bay."
Beckett entered his 10th start of the season after having given up only three runs combined in his previous three starts (21 2/3 innings). The 10 hits Beckett allowed Thursday were the most since Sept. 29, 2010, when he surrendered 11 against the Chicago White Sox.
His teammates gave him a 2-0 cushion in the bottom of the second inning that also included a solo home run by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Detroit, however, pushed across three runs in the top of the third inning.
"I made some pitches when I needed to and didn't make some other ones," Beckett said. "I talk about this a lot, but you're going to have five pitches in a game that you have to make and I think I made three of them today. The other two cost me three runs in one inning."
The Tigers added one more run in the top of the fifth inning, and it could have been worse had it not been for Boston's defense.
The Sox turned a crucial 6-4-3 double play in the top of the fifth inning. With Detroit holding a 4-3 lead with one out and two runners on, Delmon Young hit a high chopper to the left side. Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles showed quick reflexes when he snared a bad hop and quickly made the transfer to second baseman Nick Punto, who showcased quick hands, too, making the throw to finish the DP and keep the damage to a minimum.
The Red Sox couldn't get their offense going. Only one batter reached base after the fourth inning (Punto drew a leadoff walk in the seventh).
"I thought if we could get a few runs in the seventh, and with the way we were swinging the bats, he'd leave with a win and we would have a good flight to Toronto," Valentine said.
That wasn't the case.
Instead, it was Tigers starter Max Scherzer who held a recently explosive Sox offense still.
He worked six innings and allowed only three runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts. It was his first career win against the Red Sox. This outing was certainly much different than his first start against Boston earlier this season, when he allowed seven runs on eight hits and lasted only 2 2/3 innings on April 8 at Detroit.
"We just let him off the hook," Valentine said of Thursday's outing. "We had his pitch count up into the 80s after four innings and we were having good at-bats. We just kind of let it slip away."
In fact, with his win on Thursday, Scherzer now has won his past four decisions and has 42 strikeouts (28 2/3 innings) during this span.
Meanwhile, Beckett is no longer the strikeout pitcher he once was. He fanned just one batter Thursday, bringing his season total to 46 in 63 1/3 innings. He has struck out at least one batter in each of his 289 career starts in the big leagues, which is the longest active streak in the majors and the second-longest to begin a career after Dwight Gooden's 349 straight from 1984 to 1997.
"I'll take any outs I can get," Beckett said. "I'm just trying to get as many outs as I can. I'm trying to save the bullpen a little bit. It's nice to get a strikeout when you need one."
15hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com
1dTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com
1dTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com