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CLE@BOS: Beckett on loss to Indians, golf outing

BOSTON -- Though it is highly troubling that the Red Sox can't buy a win at Fenway Park anymore, that isn't even their biggest problem.

Home or road, day or night, Boston's rotation is in the midst of a slump.

Josh Beckett was the latest starter to take a beating in Thursday night's 8-3 loss to the Indians.

When Bobby Valentine came out to the mound with one out in the third, he was cheered simply for the fact he was taking Beckett out of the game. And as Beckett walked off, 2007 felt more like 10 years ago than five. The boos rained down on the righty.

While the Red Sox are struggling mightily as a team, Beckett wasn't naive enough to think the jeers were directed at the collective unit.

"It was directed at me. I pitched like [garbage]," Beckett said. "That's what happens. Smart fans."

Over 2 1/3 innings -- Beckett's shortest outing since Aug. 17, 2008 -- he gave up seven hits and seven runs, walking two and striking out two.

For the season, Red Sox starters have a 6.01 ERA, ranking 29th in the Major Leagues. Only the Twins have a higher mark.

"It's killing the bullpen," Beckett said. "The bullpen did an unbelievable job tonight. You can't expect those guys to go out there and continue to do that. You can't pitch every night. You can't do it. I thought our position players played good defense today. A lot of those balls they hit off me were too hard. You can't catch those."

As the starters go, so go the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, Boston's over-taxed bullpen has been dazzling. Valentine's relievers have a 1.66 ERA in May.

"It's challenging every night. The guys are doing a great job," Valentine said. "They're getting ready. They're coming in throwing strikes, quality pitches. I tip my hat to them and to the offense."

Things need to get better for a team that is in last place in the American League East, and 7 1/2 games out of first.

Valentine's team has lost eight of the last nine. And dating back to April 16, the Sox have lost 11 of 12 at Fenway

"I mean, that's the season as a whole," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. "It's not home or road. It's just wins and losses. We want to win for our hometown fans. They support us here, and that's the most important thing to us. At the end of the day, it's the overall record that hurts."

The 12-19 Red Sox have just 12 quality starts this season.

"Of course we would like them to pitch deep. They're all really talented and really good," said Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach. "Got to get over that hump -- we've got to get rolling a little bit. Those guys need to feed off of one another and continue to work hard. We've seen it before. There's still a long way to go."

Speaking of starts, this one got off to an inauspicious one.

The Red Sox fell behind quickly as the Indians jumped on Beckett getting three runs in the second, including a two-run homer to right by No. 9 hitter Jack Hannahan.

The Red Sox got one back in the bottom of the second when Mike Aviles belted an RBI single to center.

But Beckett gave that run back, and then some, in a rocky top of the third. Jason Kipnis opened the inning with a homer to right. After a single by Asdrubal Cabrera and a walk to Travis Hafner, Beckett surrendered an RBI double to Shin-Soo Choo and a two-run double to Michael Brantley.

"My sinker was more flat-moving instead of having depth. Cutter, same thing -- instead of having depth, everything was moving kind of flat," Beckett said.

The pitch to Brantley was the last one Beckett made. The righty had a short-lived return after being scratched from his last start with a minor injury to his right lat muscle. Beckett left with his team in a 7-1 hole.

And the performance came on the heels of a controversy, as reports surfaced Wednesday that Beckett went golfing during the team's off-day last week, which came after he was scratched.

"I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them. My off-day is my off-day," Beckett said.

Does he understand why fans might take exception, given all of the circumstances?

"Not on my off-day. We get 18 off-days a year. I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves," Becket said.

The bats were contained by Derek Lowe, who made just his second start at Fenway Park since leaving the team following the 2004 World Series championship.

Lowe was in fine form, scattering nine hits while allowing just two runs over six innings.

"I enjoyed it," said Lowe. "It's only my second time back, but it's been eight years. It's a completely different team. There's one guy from then, so you don't have that emotion where maybe three years ago I had it, because there were still a lot of guys there. This is just another team. I've always enjoyed pitching here. That's the way I looked at it coming into the game."

The Red Sox look forward to the day when they start enjoying Fenway again.

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