Beckett, making his first start since having surgery to remove a rib last year, was as sharp as a plastic spoon against the Detroit Tigers. He didn't miss many bats, and that lack of deception led to several whistling liners and one-hop ground balls.
The best of those for the Tigers came in the third inning when third baseman Nick Castellanos hit his first big-league home run over the wall in center field, quite a shot at Dodger Stadium at night.
That gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead that they eventually pushed to three runs, but closer Joe Nathan squandered it by giving up three runs in the ninth inning. But for a second night in a row, Victor Martinez got a big hit against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. This time it was a 10th-inning home run to win the game 7-6.
Beckett was finished after four innings, giving up five runs (four earned) and five hits over 85 pitches. The Tigers also stole three bases off him and his deliberate delivery.
Since joining the Dodgers as part of a record-setting trade with the Boston Red Sox in 2012 that also nabbed them Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Beckett had not given the Dodgers much more than brief peeks at the front-line pitcher he used to be. Instead he has been hit and miss -- mediocre or bad most starts, pretty good in a handful.
Considering what the Dodgers have on the don't-touch shelf -- Clayton Kershaw (back) and Chad Billingsley (elbow) -- and the uncertainty that is Paul Maholm, Beckett needs to become a reliable part of this rotation if the Dodgers want to survive on the pitching side until the ace, Kershaw, returns.
Beckett's next start probably will be in San Francisco, against a team that pummeled the Dodgers in two games last weekend and is looking like a legitimate threat in the National League West.
How it happened: The Dodgers scored three times in the first two innings, but a home run by Castallanos gave the Tigers a two-run lead in the third. Nathan blew the lead, but Martinez's home run in the 10th off Jansen allowed the Tigers to leave Dodger Stadium with a two-game split.
Hits: Dee Gordon and Crawford continued to produce at the top of the Dodgers' order. Gordon had three hits, including the tying single in the ninth. Crawford had two doubles.
Misses: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. Plus, Jansen blew a save Tuesday night and gave up the winning home run Wednesday, both hits by Martinez.
Stat of the game: Besides Castellanos hitting his first major league home run, teammate Tyler Collins had his first major league hit and pitcher Anibal Sanchez hit his first major league double, which tied the score in the second inning.
Up next: After a day off Thursday, the Dodgers travel to Phoenix for three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team they beat twice in the season-opening series in Australia.