Red Sox, Beckett capture Game 1

Boston's hurler posted another impressive start as his teammates rocked Indians ace C.C. Sabathia.

Posted: October 13, 2007

BOSTON - The American League Championship Series features two tremendous pitching staffs, but only one of them showed up last night.

The Boston Red Sox rolled to a 10-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 on the strength of yet another impressive postseason start by Josh Beckett.

The 27-year-old righthander limited the Indians to two runs and four hits over six innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven.

As good as Beckett was, he wasn't nearly as effective as he had been in his two previous postseason starts.

He launched this postseason with a shutout of Anaheim in Game 1 of the division series on Oct. 3. In that game, he allowed four hits, struck out eight, and walked none.

Beckett's postseason tour de force came in the 2003 World Series when, as the 23-year-old ace of the Florida Marlins' staff, he pitched a shutout in the Game 6 clincher against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Beckett did that on three days' rest.

In eight career postseason games, Beckett is 4-2 with a 1.87 ERA.

Does this guy know how to shine in October, or what?

"I'm just out there trying to execute pitches," Beckett said.

Beckett isn't even the most accomplished postseason pitcher on his team.

That honor belongs to Curt Schilling, who gets the ball in Game 2 tonight. The 40-year-old righthander is 9-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 16 postseason starts.

Schilling's opponent will be righthander Fausto Carmona, who was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in the regular season, second-best in the league.

The Red Sox led the league with a 3.87 ERA during the regular season, and the Indians were third at 4.05.

Last night's pitching matchup featured arguably the two best starters in the league in Beckett and C.C. Sabathia.

Beckett was the majors' only 20-game winner this season, and had a 3.27 ERA.

Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and led the majors with 241 innings pitched.

The Indians lefthander has not been as effective in the postseason. He survived a shaky start (five innings, three runs) against the Yankees in the division series and came away with a win thanks to his teammates' scoring 12 runs.

Last night, he allowed eight runs, a season high, over 41/3 innings and took the loss.

"He didn't have it," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "His command was off."

Could Sabathia be tired after his big workload this season?

"I don't think so," Wedge said. "Sometimes his heart gets in the way and he tries to do a little too much. He doesn't need to do that because what he is, is pretty good - he's one of the best in the game."

Sabathia had trouble early in the game. He went to the mound with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Travis Hafner, who drove a 96-m.p.h. fastball from Beckett over the right-field wall in the top of the first, but quickly squandered the lead on three consecutive singles in the bottom of the inning.

The last of those hits was an RBI single by Manny Ramirez, who went 2 for 2 with a walk and two RBIs against Sabathia. Ramirez is 14 for 23 (.609) in his career against Sabathia.

The iron of the Red Sox' order, Ramirez and David Ortiz, combined to reach base 10 times and score four runs.

"For them to get on base like they did is a little ridiculous," said Mike Lowell, who drove in three runs behind Ortiz and Ramirez.

Things really got away from Sabathia in the third, when the Red Sox batted around and scored four runs. Sabathia has brilliant control - he struck out 209 while walking just 37 in the regular season - but it vanished in that inning as he walked three, one intentionally, and hit a batter.

Beckett was strong his entire outing. He struck out the first two batters of the game before giving up the homer to Hafner. He then struck out the fourth batter of the game for the third out of the inning.

Beckett had 1-2-3 innings in the second, third and fourth. He surrendered a leadoff double to Casey Blake and an RBI single to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth. The Red Sox' bullpen allowed just one run the rest of the way.


Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury

at 215-854-4983 or jsalisbury@phillynews.com.

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