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June 24, 2007
Game Story: Five-run first lifts Bats past PawSox
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – David Pauley got the loss last night in Pawtucket 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Louisville Bats, but the righthander's resiliency also earned him his manager's respect.
Manager Ron Johnson didn't dwell on Pauley's rough first inning, in which he allowed five earned runs – more runs than he had allowed in any of his 13 previous starts. Rather he chose to focus on how the 24-year-old responded, by retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
"I couldn't be more proud of him," Johnson said. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish. After the first inning, he was rolling."
The PawSox came out swinging, taking a 3-0 lead in the first, but the hosts came back immediately on the usually reliable Pauley (4-2), who hadn't lost since May 3.
In the Louisville first, Ryan Freel, who started a rehabilitation assignment for the Cincinnati Reds last night, singled and stole second. One out later, Pauley walked Joey Votto and gave up an RBI double to Aaron Herr. After Jeff Bannon grounded out to make it 3-2, Mike Edwards doubled to left center, scoring Herr and tying the game. Edwards scored on Chris Dickerson's home run off the right field foul pole to give the Bats a two-run lead.
Johnson said Pauley's rough start happened because his breaking balls were breaking back over the plate. Dickerson's home run came on a 1-2 sinker that crossed over the plate.
After issuing a walk, Pauley settled down retiring the next 11 batters, but Johnson pulled the starter after Jeff Keppinger reached on Bobby Scales' fielding error in the fifth. Johnson said he pulled Pauley only because of his pitch count. Pauley threw 93 pitches, 37 of them in the decisive first.
"That was some big time adversity," Johnson said. "This young man was able to minimize the damage."
Just like Pauley, Louisville starter Richie Gardner (1-0) breezed after a difficult first inning. Gardner, making just his second Triple-A start this season, retired the next seven batters after yielding three runs.
Pawtucket scored its runs with two out in the first on three straight singles to left field. Jeff Bailey's base hit scored Joe McEwing. Michael Tucker's brought home Scales, and Brian Pritz gave the PawSox a 3-0 lead when his single scored Bailey.
The PawSox did try to battle back, but they could not cash in on any of their rallies. With runners on first and second and one out in the fourth, Gardner got Chad Spann and Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out to centerfield. In the sixth inning, the Sox loaded the bases for McEwing, but his pop out to second base ended the threat.
The next inning, one-out singles by Brandon Moss and Bailey put runners at the corners for Tucker, but reliever Brian Shackelford induced a hard grounder to the first baseman Votto, who was able to turn an inning-ending double play.
Louisville's Ricky Stone retired the last four PawSox hitters for his eighth save.
STEVE BITTENBENDER (Special to The Journal)
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 10:04 PM to PawSox
Game Story: Beckett outduels Peavy as Sox win
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO -- The pitching matchup was a thing of beauty, housed in a spacious, forgiving ballpark, played under a brilliant California summer sun.
Josh Beckett entered the duel as the American Leagues winningest pitcher. His opponent, Jake Peavy, went into this afternoon's game leading the National League in the same category.
But Beckett enjoyed one significant edge: He didn't have to face the Red Sox lineup; Peavy did.
The Red Sox offense, while spotty of late, succeeded in wearing Peavy down and running his pitch count up. When he left after just five innings, he had thrown a staggering 111 pitches. Along the way, the Sox strung together three runs in the third, then tacked on another against the bullpen, capping a 4-2 win for the Sox over the San Diego Padres.
''Obviously, he's one of the best in the game,'' said Terry Francona of Peavy, ''and we made him work hard. Fortunately for us, one of the other best (pitchers) is on our team. And he was great. He had to be.''
That's because, with Peavy as an opponent, Beckett's margin for error was slim. So Beckett made very few mistakes, shutting out the Padres in seven of the eight innings he pitched. A two-run, pinch-hit double from Termel Sledge in the fifth was the only mark against him.
''Anytime you go against Jake Peavy,'' said Beckett, baseball's first 11-game winner, ''it's going to be a tough day. We were fortunate to a get a couple of big hits.''
In the third, the Sox strung together three consecutive singles to right from the top third of their order -- Coco Crisp, Alex Cora and David Ortiz. Crisp scored on Ortiz' hit, while Cora was delivered on a sacrifice fly from Manny Ramirez.
Two more singles followed from J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell, with Ortiz sliding in just ahead of the throw from outfielder Jose Cruz. Jr.
''We tried to make him elevate,'' said Lowell. ''He's got good sink and he's an elite pitcher, but we were able to string together a lot of professional at-bats against him.''
''These guys just grind,'' said Beckett of his teammates. ''Not many guys get through five innings with 95-100 pitches. We grind at-bats out and wear people down.''
The Sox managed just five more hits over the final six innings, but one was a solo homer to center by Jason Varitek off Scott Linebrink, giving the Sox come cushion.
The Red Sox stretched their lead to 11 games in the American League East. Toronto has moved past New York into second place as the Yankees lost today for the fifth time in six games.
Beckett, who remains unbeaten (6-0, 1.14 ERA) on the road, got into his only jam in the fifth inning. He issued a walk to Kevin Kouzmanoff to start the inning, then yielded a single to center to Geoff Blum.
The Padres sent up Sledge to hit for Peavy and the outfielder stroked a double to the gap in right-center, scoring both baserunners. After a groundout moved Sledge to third with one out, the Sox brought the infield in and kept Sledge anchored at third when Michael Barrett grounded out to Julio Lugo at short.
Beckett then ended the inning by overpowering Adrian Gonzalez for the third out.
''I definitely didn't want to waste (the run support) the guys gave me,'' Beckett said. ''I wanted to make every pitch count. I threw a lot of fastballs on the outer half and mixed in some changeups and curves.''
Beckett credited a mechanical adjustment he made Friday in a side session as a key to his success. Pitching coach John Farrell, in conjunction with a former catcher at home in Texas, noticed that Beckett was collapsing in his delivery to the plate.
''I was throwing a little uphill the last few games,'' he revealed, ''so I really worked on powering the ball down (in the strike zone) with some angle to it. It was just one of those adjustments you make.''
That helped produce eight groundball outs from among the first 16 he recorded. In the seventh, however, he left a pitch up in the zone to Kouzmanoff, who seemingly crushed it to left. But Ramirez drifted back and made the catch on the warning track.
''That was one of those deals where I thanked God we were playing here (in a roomy outfield),'' Beckett said.
And that Peavy was the one facing the more disciplined and discerning lineup yesterday.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 9:09 PM to McAdam
Buehrle to Boston?
The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that the Red Sox are the front runners to land Mark Buehrle via a trade with the White Sox.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 8:16 PM | Permalink
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Former Sox reliever Rod Beck dies
Rod Beck, a relief pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox for three seasons and wore a bushy mustache while earning 286 career saves, was found dead Saturday. He was 38.
Beck was found by police officers responding to a call to his home in suburban Phoenix, according to police department spokesman Andy Hill. Foul play is not suspected, though the cause of death might not be known for several days.
With long hair framing a menacing stare and an aggressive arm swing before delivering a pitch, the outgoing right-hander was a memorable baseball personality and a three-time All-Star who twice led the NL in saves. He spent the first seven of his 13 major league season with the San Francisco Giants.
Beck was popular with his teammates, reporters and fans, but battled personal demons late in his life. He abruptly left the San Diego Padres for a two-month stint in drug rehabilitation during his final season in 2004.
“He was having some problems, and I just knew he went into rehab and joined us later that year,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, the Padres' manager at the time. “It's so sad when you see healthy players go at such a young age. This is a bad day in baseball to lose a guy who did so much for the game.”
Nicknamed “Shooter,” Beck played for the Giants (1991-97), the Chicago Cubs (1998-99) and the Boston Red Sox (1999-2001) before finishing his career with the Padres (2003-04). Beck reportedly was living in a camper behind the Iowa Cubs' center-field fence when San Diego called.
Beck led the majors in saves in 1993, when he set the Giants' single-season record with 48. He was San Francisco's career saves leader with 199 until Robb Nen passed him in 2002.
Beck led the majors again in 1998 with 51 saves for Chicago, helping the Cubs win the NL wild card. He had a career record of 38-45 in 704 games, with a 3.30 ERA.
“He was a great teammate and a great competitor,” said Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia, who played his first three major league seasons with Beck in San Francisco. “He left an impression on everybody he played with. You talk to everybody, they'll have nothing but good things to say. He's somebody that Giants fans will always remember.”
Aurilia recalled being wary of Beck's mustache and mullet when he came up as a rookie in 1995 — but Beck was among the first to congratulate Aurilia on making the team.
Beck was a favorite at Candlestick Park through most of the 1990s, but left to sign with the Cubs as a free agent in 1998. He saved 51 games in his first season in Chicago, but managed just 46 saves in his final five seasons combined.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 8:00 PM | Permalink
Clemens makes first regular-season relief appearance since 1984
Roger Clemens pitched in relief for the New York Yankees on Sunday, his first regular-season appearance as a reliever since he was a rookie with the Red Sox 23 years ago.
Clemens, who lost to the Colorado Rockies on Thursday and missed a chance for his 350th win, walked Barry Bonds and yielded Nate Schierholtz's sacrifice fly in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants.
The 44-year-old Clemens made his only other regular-season relief appearance in his 13th career game, when he allowed two hits over two innings in Oakland on July 18, 1984.
Of course, he came out of the bullpen to earn the win for Houston in an 18-inning playoff game against Atlanta in 2005, the longest postseason game in major league history. That victory sent his hometown Astros into the NL championship series.
Clemens volunteered to fill in for the Yankees' weary bullpen after Saturday's 13-inning loss to the Giants. Sunday was his scheduled day for mound work anyway, and manager Joe Torre hoped to get 30 pitches out of the right-hander.
Clemens struck out Ray Durham to open the seventh, but walked Bonds on five pitches before Ryan Klesko's single. Schierholtz then hit a long drive to center, and Bonds scored easily.
Clemens ended the longest stretch between regular-season relief appearances in major league history at 22 years, 341 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Steve Carlton went 15 years, 343 days between relief appearances in 1971 and 1987.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 7:16 PM | Permalink
Final: Red Sox 4, Padres 2
SAN DIEGO -- Josh Beckett won the battle of the aces today, outdueling Jake Peavy as the Red Sox defeated the Padres, 4-2.
More to come later tonight.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 7:00 PM | Permalink
Sox Streakers for June 24
-Josh Beckett, 5-0 with a 1.59 E.R.A. on the road this season.
-Julio Lugo is 0 for his last 23. His .196 batting average is the lowest among all major league qualifiers.
Red Sox vs. Jake Peavy
-Julio Lugo, 2 for 3 (.667)
-Mike Lowell, 4 for 8 (.500), 2 HR
-Alex Cora, 3 for 21 (.143)
-J.D. Drew, 1 for 14 (.071)
-Wily Mo Pena, 0 for 1
-Coco Crisp, 0 for 4
-No other active Red Sox batter has an at-bat against Peavy.
-Peavy has never faced Boston.
Padres vs. Josh Beckett
-Russell Branyan, 4 for 8 (.500), 2 HR
-Terrmel Sledge, 2 for 8 (.250)
-Geoff Blum, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Marcus Giles, 5 for 27 (.185)
-Khalil Greene, 1 for 6 (.167), 1 HR
-Mike Cameron, 1 for 6 (.167)
-Michael Barrett, 1 for 8 (.125)
-No other active Padres batter has an at-bat against Beckett.
-Beckett is 4-1 with a 2.14 E.R.A. lifetime against San Diego.
-All-time series: Boston 5, San Diego 3.
-Jake Peavy looks to become the National League's first 10-game winner today, while Josh Beckett could become baseball's first 11-game winner.
-Peavy is also his team's best hitting pitcher. He's batting .219 this year with three doubles and a triple in 32 at-bats, and he homered twice last season. Beckett's 1-for-7 at the plate this year with a double; he did hit a home run last year.
-David Ortiz is 0 for 6 so far in this series. He has not yet gone hitless in any series this year.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:06 AM to Projo Sox Streakers
Updated game story -- Calls, knuckeballs go wrong way for Red Sox in 6-1 loss
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SAN DIEGO – Josh Bard couldn’t catch Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball, but apparently, he sure can hit it.
The former Red Sox catcher, dealt to San Diego last May 1 after struggling as Wakefield’s designated receiver, drilled a run-scoring double and a two-run homer off his former batterymate, accounting for half of the Padres’ output in a 6-1 thrashing of the Red Sox Saturday night.
The loss snapped Boston’s winning streak at four. The Sox struck out a season-high 13 times – 11 against San Diego starter Chris Young – and managed just two hits until the ninth inning when a triple from David Murphy and a double by Mike Lowell, both off reliever Justin Hampson, helped the Sox avoid a shutout.
The towering Young, who at 6-foot-10 is as tall as Randy Johnson, held the Sox hitless through the first four innings before J.D. Drew reached on a leadoff single in the fifth. As it turned out, that was the only hit off Young all night, who improved to 7-3.
''He elevates his fastball,'' said Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, ''and kept us off balance with his slider. We couldn’t get anything going. It’s tough, with (the downward plane of Young's pitches) – the gun shows just 90-91 mph, but (the fastball) seems a lot harder.''
''He’s got some deception,'' said manager Terry Francona. ''The hitters don’t get a good look at the ball.''
The umpiring crew reversed two on-field calls, benefitting the Padres both times.
With San Diego already leading 2-0, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a sinking liner to left. Manny Ramirez attempted a tumbling catch, which third-base umpire Brian Knight ruled an out. But after conferring on the field, the umpires ruled – correctly, according to replays – that Ramirez trapped the ball.
Following a sacrifice bunt which moved Kouzmanoff to second, Marcus Giles doubled him home.
In the sixth, with Mike Cameron aboard with a double, Bard drilled a ball down the left-field line which struck the foul pole attached to the brick building in left field. Knight initially called the ball foul, but further consultation with his fellow umpires, led by Doug Eddings, reversed the call and gave Bard a two-run homer.
''I have a feeling they probably ended up getting the calls right,'' said Francona, who nonetheless was ejected after arguing the second call. ''When the umpires confer, you appreciate it because getting the call right is what’s important. Sometimes, you just feel like yelling at someone.''
Wakefield said the reversals were ''very deflating . . . An umpire’s (initial) call should stand.''
Wakefield, 7-8, began the night nearly as well as Young, allowing just two hits and a run (on Bard’s RBI double) through the fourth inning. But he allowed a solo homer to Khalil Greene to start the fifth before the Kouzmanoff reversal expanded the lead to 3-0.
In the sixth, he gave up back-to-back solo homers to Bard and Greene (again).
''It seems like every ball I made a mistake on,'' said Wakefield, ''they hit. The stuff I had tonight, to give up six runs in 5 1/3 innings, blows me away.''
That Bard did much of the damage was ironic, since he was dealt off after demonstrating that he couldn’t properly handle Wakefield’s signature pitch. The switch-hitting Bard batted right-handed, a strategy that worked.
''He’s throwing 66 mph and I’ve been comfortable batting right-handed,'' Bard said. ''It’s very tough to catch. That’s why I’m waiting for these guys to get out of town so I can stop talking about it.''
Mike Timlin and Kyle Snyder chipped in with 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Wakefield, but by then, the damage was done and the Sox could muster little offense. They hardly seemed like the same team that banged out 20 runs in a three-game series last weekend at Fenway or crushed Atlanta pitching for 15 runs in two wins earlier this week.
The ninth inning, two-out run ruined the Padres’ chance for what would have been their 12th shutout.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 1:41 AM | Permalink
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