Nice outing for Josh Beckett ... well, the first 28 batters. An error by JT Snow and an eight-pitch walk to Chase Utley opened the eighth inning and brought Ryan Howard to the plate. Tito should have pulled him there -- Julian Tavarez was warm.
Beckett stayed in and Howard hit a first-pitch, three-run home run. The 8-1 lead was 8-4.
Beckett had 91 pitches after seven innings and I wouldn't have minded him being pulled. If the Red Sox bullpen can't hold a 7-run lead with six outs to go, well ... And why not save some of those Beckett pitches for October?
Still, you could argue that Beckett was cruising and should have started the 8th. That's reasonable. But after the walk -- and at 105 pitches -- no. This is one of Francona's obvious faults (Gump had the same problem). And he can't use the excuse of a weak pen this season.
Fortunately, what could have been very ugly was not. Tavarez gave up two one-out singles, but got out of trouble and Mike Timlin threw a perfect ninth on nine pitches (all strikes).
Besides the pitching, Boston got some bizarre offense: Beckett hit a solo home run in the 7th (he also singled home a run in the sixth); Kevin Youkilis followed that with a triple; and Alex "The Pitcher" Gonzalez pounded a two-run shot to dead center in the 8th.
Jason Varitek did not hit a home run for the sixth consecutive May 20th.
[Gordon Edes writes that David Wells's knee feels good and he expects to be pitching in Fenway against Tampa this Friday.]