Monday, October 13, 2008
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Beckett struggles again in Game 2 of ALCS

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[October 13, 2008]  ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Josh Beckett's reputation as a postseason ace is taking a beating.

The Boston star struggled for a second consecutive playoff start Saturday night, lasting only 4 1-3 innings against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the AL championship series.

Fortunately for Beckett, the Red Sox hitters offset his troubles on the mound, and the game went into extra innings. Tampa Bay tied the series with a 9-8 win in 11 innings.

The 2003 World Series MVP never found his rhythm and was tagged for eight runs and nine hits. After such an outing, there were sure to be more questions about whether Beckett had fully healed from late-season injuries.

One season after winning all four of his playoff starts in helping the Red Sox win the World Series, Beckett has given up 12 runs and 18 hits -- including five homers -- over 9 1-3 October innings in 2008.

Beckett went 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA during the regular season in which he was sidelined in August with tendinitis in his right elbow tendinitis. He then missed his final start of the season because of a strained oblique muscle.

The Red Sox and Beckett both said there are no physical problems. Still, in Game 3 of the first round against the Los Angeles Angels, he was touched for four runs and nine hits in five innings.

Boston had pushed Beckett back to a few extra days to give him additional rest to face the Angels. But he gave up a double to Chone Figgins on his first pitch and had the poorest start of his 10 postseason outings.

Beckett hoped to pitch Boston to a two games to none edge over the Rays. Instead, the results showed it's not the same Beckett on the hill.

Boston went 2-0 in the top of the first, and Beckett immediately gave the lead up on a two-run homer by Evan Longoria.

Even after allowing solo homers to B.J. Upton in the third and Cliff Floyd one inning later, the Red Sox staked him to a 6-5 lead in the fifth.

Again, the advantage disappeared quickly. With one out, Carlos Pena tied it at 6 with an RBI single and Longoria then made it 7-6 with a run-scoring double that ended Beckett's night.

It hasn't been a pretty stretch for Beckett, who has thrown complete three complete games in the postseason and started the ALCS with a playoff ERA of 2.09.

It seems right now there are more questions than answers when it comes to Beckett's last two starts.

[Associated Press; By MARK DIDTLER]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





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