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Monday, September 5, 2011
Josh Beckett: Ankle 'a concern'

By Allan Ryan
Special to ESPNBoston.com

TORONTO -- In Monday's Labor Day matinee, a quintet of Red Sox pitchers conceded a solitary run over nearly 11 full innings.

That clearly was a whole lot better than getting massaged for 28 weekend runs by the Texas Rangers.

But this was a long weekend, and while there were some bright spots on Monday, the day definitely had its dark side. Worse, the Red Sox don't know yet just how dark.

For starters, that one run came on a two-out, walk-off homer by Toronto rookie Brett Lawrie off Dan Wheeler to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 victory.

And speaking of starters, the Red Sox's rotation took another turn for the worse when Josh Beckett had to leave the game with a sprained right ankle in the fourth inning.

"Never had anything like this before," said Beckett, who'll fly back to Boston on Tuesday morning for an examination. "It's pretty bad timing … definitely a concern. It's my plant foot. It's definitely stiff right now."

Beckett mentioned that he'd slipped in the bullpen -- actually falling to the ground -- as he stepped off the mound to change his shirt, but didn't believe that had anything to do with what followed.

Hooked up in a 0-0 stalemate with Toronto rookie Henderson Alvarez, Beckett had two down in the fourth, with six of his 11 outs via strikeout, when he first felt a twinge on a called strike to Lawrie.

"The pitch after that, it felt a little different again," Beckett said. "It felt locked up, like something had popped in and out of a socket or something."

That's when manager Terry Francona headed to the mound.

"He said he didn't remember feeling it hurting out in the bullpen and whether that was a coincidence, who knows?" Francona said. "He also said the mound was kind of hard, so it was hard to let him say that and keep him in the game.

"We'll get him back to Boston so we can see what happened, what's going on in there. Right now, we just don't know."

In his morning session with the media, Francona had announced plans to give Beckett an extra day's rest before each of his next two starts.

During the same session, Francona said Erik Bedard would skip his next scheduled start Friday in Tampa in order to get some additional recovery time for his oft-tender knee. Postgame, Francona assured the plan would not change because of Beckett's situation.

"We're saying this is precautionary with Bedard," Francona said. "We could pitch him, he'd certainly do it, but I don't know if that's in anybody's best interest."

Young right-hander Kyle Weiland rejoined the team for Monday's game and would be a candidate to start either Friday or Saturday in Tampa. John Lackey would be on regular rest on Friday.

As for the bullpen Monday, Alfredo Aceves came aboard for Beckett, finished off a walk to Lawrie, then stiffed the Jays on one hit until there was one down in the eighth. Daniel Bard cashiered the five Jays he faced before Jonathan Papelbon escaped a bases-loaded 10th by whiffing Adam Lind on three swinging strikes.

Wheeler had a 1-1 fastball flatten out for Lawrie in the 11th and that was that, with the Sox suffering their fifth loss in seven games.

The offense, blanked for the second time in four games, managed seven hits but stranded 10 and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The last time they were in Toronto, the Sox were riding one of their hottest patches of the season, when they reeled off a 5-1, 16-4, 14-1 sweep that bumped a winning streak to nine and their lead in the East to two lengths on the Yankees.

Now they trail the Yanks by 2½, the Bombers gaining a game Monday with an 11-10 effort over Baltimore that took 3 hours and 16 minutes -- 35 fewer minutes than this 1-0 affair.

"We've been a little inconsistent lately," Francona said. "One day we're swinging good, the next day we're not. Hopefully, we'll find that consistency pretty soon."

Allan Ryan is covering the Red Sox-Blue Jays series for ESPNBoston.com.