Beckett buries Braves again

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ATLANTA --- Josh Beckett wasn't feeling well. No problem when he's facing the Braves.

Red Sox starter Josh Beckett earned his second win against the Braves in the past week Friday night. He's thrown 16 shutout innings against Atlanta this season.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Red Sox starter Josh Beckett earned his second win against the Braves in the past week Friday night. He's thrown 16 shutout innings against Atlanta this season.

Beckett pitched seven more scoreless innings against his favorite opponent and David Ortiz homered, leading the first-place Boston Red Sox past slumping Atlanta 4-1 on Friday night.

Beckett (9-3) has faced the Braves twice in the past seven days and still hasn't given up a run. He threw a five-hit, no-walk shutout at Fenway Park last weekend. This time, he allowed six hits, struck out six and didn't walk anyone before turning it over to the bullpen.

In his past seven starts against Atlanta, Beckett is 6-0 with a 0.38 ERA.

"I'm just trying to do the same things I do every time I'm out there," he said with a shrug.

Beckett might have taken a shot at a second consecutive shutout, but he started feeling ill in the third inning and finally asked to come out after the seventh on a sweltering night.

"It wasn't an ideal situation for me," he said. "But I made the pitches when I needed to and we played good defense."

Ortiz continued to show signs of bouncing back from his miserable start. He is hitting .333 over his past 17 games, with seven homers and 14 RBI, though he's still batting .218 overall.

"He was kind of lost for a while," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He found himself. That's good for us. We need his bat."

Ortiz shrugged off his surge.

"Whatever gets us ahead, gives us a chance to win the game," he said.

The Red Sox have won 17 of 23 to strengthen their hold on first in the AL East. The Braves, on the other hand, lost their third in a row and 11th in the past 16. They have won only one series in the past month and will have to win two consecutive games against Boston to avoid losing another this weekend.

"We hit the ball hard, much harder (against Beckett) than we did in Fenway Park," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It just didn't happen at the right time."

Atlanta didn't do anything against Beckett, who allowed only one runner past second base. Diory Hernandez led off the third with a double and moved up on a forceout but was stranded when Chipper Jones took a called third strike.

The Braves started the fourth with consecutive singles by Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman. They didn't get any farther -- Jeff Francoeur struck out, David Ross flied to right and Hernandez grounded out. Ross later homered in the ninth.

Braves starter Jair Jurrjens (5-6) allowed three earned runs in eight innings but got no offensive support, a familiar theme for the young pitcher from Curacao. He's 0-4 over his past five starts, his teammates providing only nine runs during that span.

Compounding Jurrjens' woes: He was twice called for balks, both of which contributed to Boston runs.

"Hopefully we can score some runs and win some ballgames," he said. "I'm giving 100 percent every time I go out there. That's all I can do."

TODAY'S GAME

BOSTON RED SOX AT ATLANTA BRAVES

Tim. Wakefield (9-3, 4.47)

Javier Vazquez (5-6, 3.18)

4:10 - Fox-Ch. 54 - Turner Field


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