Perhaps no Boston Red Sox player has been a bigger lightning rod for the team's frustrated fan base than Josh Beckett .
Beckett returns from a brief bout with back spasms Wednesday to face Harrison as the Red Sox and Rangers finish their season series at Fenway Park.
The last time Beckett (5-9, 4.54 ERA) was on the mound, he walked in a run and was removed from a July 31 game against Detroit in the third inning after his back tightened up on a soggy mound.
Even while injured, he heard some boos as he departed, likely due to his recent performances - he's 1-5 with a 4.94 ERA in his last nine starts, with Boston going 2-7 in those games - combined with lingering memories of his role in last season's epic September collapse.
Beckett said he's not fazed by the reaction of the fans and media.
"I think for me, I'm just me," Beckett said Tuesday in an appearance on Boston radio station WAAF. "I don't pay too much mind to when people have their opinions about it. I'm not going to change and I think sometimes that's kind of what the media outlets want you to do here."
After dealing with trade rumors leading up to the deadline, Beckett said he's happy in Boston and that the Red Sox clubhouse is the "exact opposite" of the dysfunctional place it's been reported to be.
Beckett has lost both of his starts against the Rangers this year, allowing seven runs in 14 innings, but may find reason for optimism in his most recent outing. He retired the first eight batters he faced against the Tigers before unraveling.
Harrison's last start produced his 13th victory, and he needs only one more to match his career-high total from last season. The left-hander allowed two runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 win Friday at Kansas City.
He had given up nine runs over 13 innings while losing his previous two outings.
"He's got a mean streak now," manager Ron Washington said. "That mean streak grew into him. He didn't always have it. He hates to be taken out of the game. He hates when he doesn't go out there and do good."
Harrison (13-6, 3.17) hasn't faced Boston this year, but he did very well at Fenway last season, yielding two runs in seven innings of an 11-4 win Sept. 4. He leads the majors with nine road wins this year, posting a 2.99 ERA in 12 starts outside of Arlington.
He'll be looking to follow a strong outing by new teammate Ryan Dempster , who took a shutout into the seventh inning of a 6-3 win Tuesday. The Rangers, who lost 9-2 on Monday, clinched their fourth straight season-series victory against Boston.
"It was a good bounce-back win after last night," Washington told his team's official website. "It was certainly a big game. We didn't want to go down 0-2. Now we tied the series and have a chance to win it."
Texas is 24-12 against the Red Sox since 2009, and has outscored them 47-24 while winning five of seven meetings this year.
Boston (55-56) can't seem to harness any momentum and is now trying to salvage a split of its 10-game homestand. The Red Sox begin a 10-game road trip Thursday in Cleveland.
Dustin Pedroia won't have long to cool down after getting ejected in the ninth inning Tuesday. He had been called out on a questionable check swing in the bottom of the eighth.
|August 05, 2012||Elvis Andrus||Day-to-Day||Left game - shoulder soreness|
|July 19, 2012||Colby Lewis||60-Day DL||Torn flexor tendon, right elbow|
|July 06, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Lower back spasms|
|June 26, 2012||Mark Lowe||15-Day DL||Strained right intercostal muscle|
|June 24, 2012||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Right forearm tendinitis|
|June 24, 2012||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Right forearm tendinitis|
|Boston Red Sox|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|July 29, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 21, 2012||Mike Aviles||Day-to-Day||Turf toe|
|July 17, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right Achilles strain|
|July 14, 2012||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
BOSTON (AP) -- Following Josh Hamilton 's resurgence, the Texas Rangers outslugged the Boston Red Sox.
Hamilton continued to work his way back from of a prolonged slump and the Rangers belted four homers to beat the Red Sox 10-9 despite blowing a late four-run lead Wednesday.
Hamilton homered among his three hits and had four RBIs for Texas, which couldn't hold a 9-5 edge before pulling out its sixth win in eight games.
"He's the heart of the lineup," said right fielder Nelson Cruz , who added a two-run homer. "When he's doing good, everybody's seeing more pitches to hit and drive runners in."
Mitch Moreland and Geovany Soto also homered for the Rangers. It was Soto's first with Texas since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs in a non-waiver deadline deal last week.
It was only Hamilton's fourth multi-hit game in his last 27. Before Wednesday, he had just two homers and 16 RBIs since the All-Star break.
"I saw him coming out of it a week or so ago," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's laying off the real bad pitches. Because Josh is a swinger, he's going to swing at some pitches. ... He's swinging the bat well. When he's going real well is when there's RBIs out there, and he's not missing very many."
The AL West-leading Rangers took two of three from Boston, closing their road trip at 4-2.
Will Middlebrooks had a three-run homer for the second straight game, and Cody Ross added a solo shot and drove in two runs for Boston, which has lost six of eight and went 4-6 on its longest homestand of the season.
Adrian Gonzalez added three RBI doubles for the Red Sox.
Alexi Ogando (2-0) worked two perfect innings of relief for the win. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 23rd save, striking out the last two batters with a runner on second.
But with all the power displayed, it took Adrian Beltre 's tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth inning to lift Texas to the win.
With the score tied 9-all, Elvis Andrus walked and moved to third on Hamilton's single off Clayton Mortensen (1-1). Alfredo Aceves relieved before Beltre's sacrifice fly.
Josh Beckett gave up a season-high eight runs on eight hits - three homers - in his first start for Boston since leaving July 31 with a back spasm. It's the seventh time he's given up eight or more runs at Fenway Park, four times against the Yankees, the last coming May 7, 2010.
Beckett's career-best streak of starts without surrendering a home run was halted at 12. It was the longest in the majors' this season and most by a Red Sox starter since Mel Parnell 's 14 straight in 1948.
"The back felt good. Just too many pitches down the middle of the plate and everything was up," he said. "Even when I was on the corners it was still up."
Trailing 9-5 in the seventh, Boston tied it when Gonzalez had his third run-scoring double and Middlebrooks homered into the left-field seats off reliever Roy Oswalt .
The Rangers had chased Beckett and built an 8-5 lead in the sixth. Soto homered into the seats above the Green Monster after David Murphy singled. Beckett was booed loudly as he walked slowly off the mound after being pulled.
Cruz's homer off Mortensen made it 9-5 in the seventh.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine felt his lineup showed extra fight despite a poor outing by Beckett.
"I don't think it's deflating. I think the offense feels good when they're scoring runs," he said. "They think they're swinging the bats well and that they can come back."
With the score tied 3-3 in the fifth, Moreland led off with a homer off a TV stanchion in straightaway center. Andrus singled before Hamilton hit a shot deep into the right-field seats for his 30th home run, making it 6-3 and giving the slugger his third season of 30 or more homers.
Gonzalez's second RBI double had cut the score to 6-4 in the fifth. Texas starter Matt Harrison then loaded the bases with consecutive two-out walks before he was lifted for Oswalt. Gonzalez scored on catcher Soto's passed ball, slicing it to 6-5, but Kelly Shoppach struck out to end the threat.
Harrison was charged with five runs - four earned - on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. Washington said he was feeling sick and got an IV during the game.
The Rangers continued Beckett's season-long first-inning misery, jumping ahead 3-0. Hamilton had a two-run triple into the center-field triangle and scored on Beltre's sacrifice fly.
Beckett's ERA rose to 10.42 in the first innings of his starts.
In the first, Gonzalez's RBI double and Ross' run-scoring single made it 3-2.
Ross' homered in the third - his first in 18 games - just inside the left-field foul pole, tying it at 3.
NOTES: It was just Hamilton's second homer in his last 19 games. ... Red Sox DH David Ortiz , on the 15-day DL since July 18 with a strained right Achilles, did some agility drills and looked good running the bases about two hours before the game. On Tuesday, he took batting practice on the field and said he hopes to return when the club plays in Cleveland this weekend. ... Boston placed RHP Vicente Padilla on the 15-day DL before the game with right arm tightness and recalled RHP Mortensen from Triple-A Pawtucket. ... The Rangers put C Yorvit Torrealba on waivers. If he's not claimed by Friday he'll become a free agent. He was designated for assignment when the club acquired Soto from the Cubs on July 31.