BOSTON (AP) – Josh Beckett made his case to start the All-Star game on Thursday night. Too bad he can’t bring the whole Red Sox lineup with him.
Beckett matched the major league lead with his 12th victory, getting a first-inning grand slam from Coco Crisp and a career-high five hits from Mike Lowell to lead Boston to a 15-4 victory over Tampa Bay. It was the Devil Rays’ 11th consecutive loss.
“A lot of runs,” Beckett said with a sense of awe. “These guys never cease to amaze me with the way they swing the bats.”
The Devil Rays were swept for the third straight series. A fourth this weekend in Kansas City would pull them within one of the franchise record of 15 straight losses set in 2002.
The Red Sox and their major league-leading six All-Stars headed to Detroit for a series against the Tigers and Jim Leyland, who will manage the AL squad in San Francisco. Beckett (12-2) is among those in contention to start Tuesday night’s game.
“There’s some other guys as deserving as I am. I’ll be happy if he chooses me,” Beckett said. “It’s a whole new experience for me. It’s a very exciting time.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he wouldn’t campaign for Beckett to start, though he expected to chat with Leyland in Detroit.
“He doesn’t need my help,” said Francona, who managed in the All-Star game in 2005, a year after Boston won the World Series. “I’m aware of how things work, and I don’t want to be a pain in the neck.”
Lowell and Crisp each drove in five of Boston’s season-high 15 runs; the 21 hits were also a season-high. David Ortiz went 3-for-5 with four runs as the Red Sox led 6-0 lead after one inning, 9-0 after two and 13-2 after three.
Beckett had already struck out seven by then. He finished with nine, allowing three runs, nine hits and a walk in six innings.
J.P. Howell (1-3) allowed six runs, six hits and two walks, retiring just two of the 10 batters he faced before being chased in the first inning. He even needed good defense to do that: Ortiz was retired on a fielder’s choice line drive off the first baseman’s glove for the first out in the inning.
After two more singles, Howell walked Jason Varitek with the bases loaded and Crisp sent a high fly just inside the left-field foul pole and over the Green Monster.
“I was trying way too hard out there. I tried to pitch the whole game in one inning in my mind,” Howell said. “After the grand slam, I thought we were still in it. But after that, it was over.”
Crisp came up with the bases loaded again three more times: in the third, drawing a walk to match his career high for RBIs; again in the sixth, when he hit into an inning-ending double play, and again in the eighth, when he struck out.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t happen that last time. I’m tired,” joked Crisp, who also doubled in the fifth and made an over-the-shoulder basket catch on Jonny Gomes’ drive to deep center in the sixth. “That speaks a lot for our team. For me or anybody to come up with the bases loaded four times is pretty amazing.”
Delmon Young went 3-for-4 and Brendan Harris drove in two runs for Tampa Bay.
Notes: After the game, the Red Sox said they would send OF Jacoby Ellsbury back to Triple-A. … Boston has scored 97 runs for Beckett while he’s in the game, tops in the majors. … Devil Rays C Dioner Navarro was hurt when he collided with Beckett behind first base on a grounder in the sixth. He was helped off the field with trainers holding him under each arm. Raul Casanova pinch ran for him. Navarro was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for precautionary X-rays. … The Devil Rays signed 41st-round selection RHP Austin Hinkle, of Coastal Carolina. … Only five pitchers in Red Sox history have had more than 12 victories at the midseason break. Just two – Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez – have done it since 1974. … Boston LHP Hideki Okajima was added to the AL All-Star roster as the winner of the Internet voting. … Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis was out of the starting lineup for the third time in four games with a strained hamstring. … The Red Sox signed first-round draft pick LHP Nick Hagadone along with eight international free agents.