BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Josh Beckett pitched 3 1-3 innings after missing his last start because of an illness, allowing four runs on six hits as the Boston Red Sox lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-7 on Friday.
Beckett, who walked two and struck out one, was slated to pitch Sunday against the Minnesota Twins but was a late scratch.
“The numbers don’t look good, but the most important number today was 70 pitches,” Beckett said. “It would’ve been nice to take 70 pitches a lot farther than 3 1-3 (innings), but I got my work in.”
Beckett was bedridden for four days and lost about three pounds while he was down with flu-like symptoms. He’s still weak, but was eager to get back on the mound.
“The last time I was 100 percent I was about 16 years old,” Beckett said. “If we’re looking for 100 percent, I think I might make two starts this year.”
Beckett expects to be ready for Boston’s season opener April 4 against the New York Yankees.
“I don’t think it will be a problem,” Beckett said. “We’ve got three or four more starts before then.”
Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm worked four innings and gave up three runs, two of them unearned. David Ortiz hit a two-run homer off Maholm in the first inning.
“It went down and in, right into his swing,” Maholm said.
Maholm, the Pirates’ likely Opening Day starter, has not faced an easy lineup in four starts this spring. After two games each against the Red Sox and Yankees, Maholm has a 2.70 ERA.
Maholm’s next start will be Wednesday against the Red Sox.
“It’s fun,” Maholm said. “It keeps you working. Today, I made a couple mistakes and I paid for them. That’s something that’s going to happen during the regular season. But, overall, it was a good outing.”
Delwyn Young knocked Beckett out of the game with a two-run home run, his fifth homer of the spring — all coming in a six-game span. Garrett Jones and Steve Pearce also hit two-run homers for the Pirates.
NOTES: Doctors told Red Sox INF Gil Velazquez he’ll be out six weeks due to a fractured bone in his left thumb. Velazquez, who has a team-high seven RBI this spring, was injured Tuesday. … OF Jacoby Ellsbury (illness) worked out Friday and is expected to be in Boston’s lineup Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles. … RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka returned from Boston, where on Thursday his wife gave birth to a daughter. Matsuzaka will pitch in a minor league game either Sunday or Monday. … Two of the Pirates’ top prospects, 3B Pedro Alvarez and OF Jose Tabata, were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Also, OF Jonathan Van Every, INF Doug Bernier and Ps Jimmy Barthmaier, Neal Cotts, Craig Hansen and Tyler Yates were reassigned to minor league camp.