Beckett gives up six hits in seven innings for his 13th victory

BALTIMORE -- Two batters into the game, Dustin Pedroia homered and thousands of red-clad fans roared.

The way Josh Beckett ended up pitching, that would be enough offense to assure the Boston Red Sox another victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Beckett threw seven innings of six-hit ball for his major league-leading 13th win, Kevin Youkilis went 4 for 4 with a homer, and Boston cruised past the Orioles 4-0 Saturday night.

Newcomer Victor Martinez drove in a run for the Red Sox, who are 10-2 against Baltimore this season. Boston clinched its ninth straight series win over the Orioles and improved to 25-10 in Baltimore since Sept. 23, 2005.

As usual, Camden Yards sounded like Fenway Park. Around 70 percent of the sellout crowd of 49,384 were cheering for the Red Sox, whose third straight victory moved them within a half-game of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

Beckett (13-4) struck out five and walked two. The right-hander is 11-2 with a 2.28 ERA since April 30, and has not allowed an earned run in seven of his last 13 starts.

"To put up seven zeros against that lineup was pretty good work," Boston manager Terry Francona said.

Staked to a 1-0 lead by Pedroia, Beckett didn't permit a runner to get into scoring position until the fifth and left with Boston holding a comfortable 4-0 advantage.

"Beckett showed tonight why he is one of the most dominating pitchers in the game," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "The guy is just one of the game's best."

Baltimore's Luke Scott went 1 for 2 with a walk against Beckett and considered himself fortunate.

"He mixed up four really good pitches," Scott said. "He had a good curveball. His fastball was anywhere from 94 to 98 with movement. He wasn't making too many mistakes. He had a good cutter working and a good changeup. There really wasn't much to hit today."

Baltimore rookie David Hernandez (3-3) gave up two runs in 4 1/3 innings after limiting Boston to one run over seven innings last Sunday. His problems began with the second batter he faced.

"Anytime you go up against a guy like Beckett, you can't go out there and give them a one-spot in the first inning," Hernandez said. "It's already tough enough to put runs up on the board against him, but I didn't execute pitches tonight."

The Orioles fell to 4-11 since the All-Star break after going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and hitting into three double plays.

"Basically, getting two outs with one pitch three times is big for any pitcher," Beckett said.

Youkilis, meanwhile, is on a nice little streak at the plate. In the first two games of the series, he's 7 for 8 with two homers, three RBIs and three runs scored.

"Looks like he's starting to get hot. He's staying on pitches," Francona said.

After Pedroia put the Red Sox on top, Boston loaded the bases with two outs in the second before Hernandez retired Pedroia on a grounder.

Youkilis made it 2-0 in the fifth with his 19th homer. David Ortiz then chased Hernandez with a double, and two straight walks by Mark Hendrickson loaded the bases before Jed Lowrie fouled out to end the inning.

An RBI single by Martinez and a run-scoring double by Jason Bay made it 4-0 in the sixth. Obtained Friday in a trade with the Cleveland Indians, Martinez batted third and went 1 for 5 in his Boston debut.

Game notes
The Red Sox stranded 15 and went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position. ... Boston RF Josh Reddick hit two doubles, becoming the first Boston rookie with two extra-base hits in his initial major league start since Rey Quinones in May 1986. ... Scott is 8 for 14 lifetime against Beckett. ... Bay left in the sixth with a right hamstring cramp. ... The crowd was the fourth-largest in the 18-year history of Camden Yards.