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Beckett fans five over seven innings in loss

MIAMI -- The bats have gone ice cold for the Red Sox the last few days, and the change in scenery from Fenway Park to Marlins Park did nothing to change that on Monday night.

Josh Beckett got off to a difficult beginning in this one, putting his team in a four-run hole through two innings. But he had a dramatic revival, holding the Marlins hitless over his final five innings.

There was no reward for Beckett's in-game turnaround, because the Boston bats were stifled by Josh Johnson and two Florida relievers in a 4-1 loss.

This is how it has been going of late for the Sox, who have lost seven of their last eight, most of the defeats marred by the lack of timely hits.

This marked the fourth time in the last five games the Red Sox have scored four runs or fewer.

"We're frustrated, everybody is," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We want to win. We've got guys that care and we expect to do something special. We're going to continue to work and try to be a great team."

These days, Boston is a last-place team, trailing the Yankees and Rays by 6 1/2 games in the American League East.

For the first time since May 18, manager Bobby Valentine's team is three games below .500.

"I don't think they're pressing," Valentine said. "I mean they're probably trying real hard to hit some real good pitchers. We've faced four of them in a row now, and they've just been outstanding."

Making his first career start against the Marlins -- the team Beckett helped fuel to a World Series championship in 2003 -- the righty gave up six hits and four runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out five.

At least at the outset, Beckett might have been a little thrown off by the wind on a rare summer night that saw the roof open at the Marlins' new stadium.

For the second consecutive start, Beckett didn't speak to the media after the game.

"There was a wind out there, and he figured out the wind a little late I guess," said Valentine. "His two-seamer was just dynamite tonight. He was throwing it, and it was moving in. It was just about unhittable."

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen probably had some warm memories once Beckett got into a groove. Back in 2003, when Beckett's heroics led the Marlins to a World Series crown over the Yankees, Guillen was the third-base coach.

"We jumped ahead early against Josh," said Guillen. "Josh is one of the best pitchers the last 10 years. This kid, after we scored those runs, you see what happened. He shut us down."

Beckett ran into immediate trouble as Jose Reyes led off Miami's first by ripping a line-drive triple to right-center.

Donovan Solano got Reyes home with a sacrifice fly to right. With one out, Giancarlo Stanton looped in a single to center. Logan Morrison followed with a double to the corner in right that Stanton was able to score on when Adrian Gonzalez bobbled the ball. Gaby Sanchez put Beckett in a 3-0 hole with a single.

Solano increased the lead to four runs with an RBI single in the second.

"Obviously, it put us behind," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "With our offense, we should be able to come back and score some runs. Josh is a good pitcher. He threw the ball well tonight and kept us off-balance. We've just got to come back and battle tomorrow."

Johnson was lights-out for the Marlins in the early going, allowing just two hits -- both singles -- over the first five innings.

The Red Sox finally got a rally going in the sixth. Scott Podsednik got things started with a one-out single. Pedroia roped a double to left. Gonzalez trimmed the Marlins' lead to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly to left.

Considering that Pedroia had been slumping since returning from a right thumb injury, his double was an encouraging sign.

"I've felt better the last few days," Pedroia said. "I'm getting there. It's only a matter of time before I start taking off."

In another positive development for Boston, Mark Melancon -- fresh off being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday -- fired a perfect eighth inning in his return to the Majors.

"I felt good. I felt like I'm back," Melancon said.

The Boston bats can only hope they'll be saying the same thing soon.

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