Beckett, Ramirez Lift Sox To Split

NEW YORK—Remember that thin margin of error Terry Francona talked about following the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees Wednesday? There was no need to worry Thursday, when a pair of franchise cornerstones helped the Sox to a series split.

Josh Beckett became the first Sox starter this season to last eight innings and Manny Ramirez hit two home runs as the Sox beat the Yankees, 7-5, in front of a sellout crowd of 55,088 at Yankee Stadium.

Beckett, who missed most of spring training with back and hip injuries, looked as if he was close to midseason form in allowing three runs on six hits and one walk while striking out five. Beckett's final pitch probably threw a scare into Red Sox Nation: Alex Rodriguez hit a slow roller past the pitcher's mound and Beckett dove for and missed the ball. He remained flat on the ground as Dustin Pedroia charged the ball and threw out Rodriguez, but at that point Beckett sprang to his feet and jogged off the field.

"He understands his responsibility and he's good enough to carry it out," Francona said.

Beckett ran into trouble in the fifth, when he allowed three runs—on a two-run single by Derek Jeter and an RBI double by Bobby Abreu—with two outs, but he retired the final 10 batters he faced. Outside of the fifth inning, Beckett allowed only one runner as far as second base.

"There are nights when you don't have your good stuff and you battle for five or six [innings]," Beckett said. "Other nights, the weather's right and you go seven or eight."

Ramirez, meanwhile, continued his outstanding April by hammering a solo homer to centerfield leading off the second and a mammoth two-run blast that nearly scraped the upper deck in the third inning. That was the highlight of a four-run third that chased Mike Mussina.

The homers raised Ramirez' overall career total to 495 and 55 against the Yankees, the latter of which ranks third all-time. He also moved into a tie for the American League lead with 18 RBI.

"I hope he invites me to his Hall of Fame speech," Beckett said.

Ramirez singled in his third at-bats and came around to score on J.D. Drew's two-run double. The Yankees responded in curious fashion in the seventh, when noted hothead Kyle Farnsworth—apparently doing his best impersonation of Scott Proctor—fired his first pitch behind the head of Ramirez, who glared out to the mound as home plate umpire Larry Vanover warned both benches.

The Sox didn't retaliate and Ramirez said afterward he thought he got buzzed because David Aardsma plunked Rodriguez in the sixth inning Wednesday. Francona, told he looked pained when Ramirez got hit, said it was just gas.

"Glad it didn't hit Manny," Francona said. "Ninety-eight at your lips is going to hurt."

The Sox traveled to Boston afterward and will begin a four-game series against the Rangers tonight, when Daisuke Matsuzaka faces ex-Sox farmhand Luis Mendoza.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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