ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Beckett was physically and mentally drained. And very excited.
Given a lead going into the seventh inning of his Boston debut, Beckett worked through a 1-2-3 frame and on his 109th -- and final -- pitch got reigning AL batting champion Michael Young on a check swing for a strikeout.
Beckett excitedly bounded off the mound, and the Red Sox held on for a 2-1 victory over the Rangers Wednesday night.
"The last pitch I threw to Michael Young, that was about all I had left," Beckett said. "I wanted them to call that a strike so bad."
Beckett gave up a run in the first and needed 81 pitches to get through the first four innings. But after D'Angelo Jimenez led off the fourth with a double, Beckett retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.
Mike Timlin then worked the eighth, getting defensive help from Manny Ramirez to preserve the lead, and Jonathan Paplebon pitched a perfect ninth for his first major league save.
Trot Nixon's two-run homer in the seventh gave the Red Sox all the runs they'd need.
Making his first start for the Red Sox not far from his hometown of Spring, Texas, Beckett allowed a run and scattered seven hits. He had five strikeouts and one walk, throwing 75 of his pitches for strikes.
"Once he got the lead, you could see him reaching for a little bit extra," manager Terry Francona said. "He was terrific. ... He enjoys competing and is fun to watch. I'm glad we didn't waste that outing."
The Red Sox got the 25-year-old right-hander, the 2003 World Series MVP and one of Florida's aces, in a trade last November - after the Marlins turned down an offer from Texas. Beckett became the No. 3 starter behind veterans Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield.
Beckett got off to a rocky start, allowing a leadoff double by Brad Wilkerson before throwing a wild pitch and allowing Young's infield RBI single. But the Rangers got only one runner to third base against Beckett after that.
Kameron Loe, the 6-foot-7 right-hander who broke into the Rangers rotation at the end of last season, was strong until he got into the seventh -- when he allowed Nixon's homer and two more hits after allowing only three hits until that point.
Ramirez, 1-for-10 hitting with five strikeouts this season, kept the Red Sox in front with a defensive play in the eighth.
Mark Teixeira led off the eighth with a single off Timlin and Hank Blalock walked. Teixeira was waved around third base and tried to score on Kevin Mench's single to left.
"I saw Ramirez flat-footed and went for it," third base coach Steve Smith said. "He needed to make a nice throw and he did."
Ramirez fielded the ball and hit the cutoff man, third baseman Mike Lowell. The relay to catcher Jason Varitek beat Teixeira to home plate by several steps.
"It was an aggressive play that didn't work out for us," Teixeira said.
Ramirez drew a leadoff walk in the seventh before Nixon's homer.
Loe allowed two more singles before Joaquin Benoit took over and got Coco Crisp on a called third strike. The right-hander allowed two runs and six hits over 6 2/3 innings, with one strikeout and three walks.
Before Nixon's first home run of the season, Boston's only scoring threat against Loe was after Crisp's one-out triple down the right-field line in the sixth. The Rangers then played their infield in, and Mark Loretta (already with two singles) grounded out. David Ortiz hit another grounder to second base that ended the inning.
"We needed something. That kid was sinking the ball," Francona said. "One pitch, that was the ball game."
Ortiz reached base six times the first two games (4-for-8 with two walks), but Big Papi grounded into two double plays before leaving Crisp stranded.
Gold Glove first baseman Teixeira made a diving stab at the ball hit by Crisp. Still, Teixeira had another solid defensive night.
Teixeira had three unassisted outs and started a 3-6-3 double play against Ortiz in the first. With two Red Sox on base in the eighth, Teixeira went toward the seats in foul territory and reached over the railing to catch Nixon's high pop -- after having to run up several yards to catch up to the wind-swept ball.
After taking 2-of-3 games in the opening series, the Red Sox have Thursday off before three games in Baltimore this weekend. Their Fenway Park opener is Tuesday against Toronto. ... Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks sat with Rangers owner Tom Hicks in his front-row seats by the Texas dugout.