|Colorado (33-33) «||1||0||4||1||0||0||0||1||0||7||12||1|
BOSTON -- With a line-drive grand slam over Fenway Park's Green Monster, Garrett Atkins might have put his slump behind him.
"I know I'm a good hitter," the Rockies third baseman said Thursday night after going 3-for-5 to help Colorado beat the Boston Red Sox 7-1. "I've had two bad months of swings, but we've got four months left."
Kaz Matsui also had three hits for the Rockies as they sent Josh Beckett (9-1) to his first loss of the season. Jeff Francis (6-5) pitched five shutout innings, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out six to win for the fifth time in six decisions.
"I can't try to raise my game," Francis said of facing an unbeaten pitcher. "I've just got to try to do what I do and hope, like today, we score a lot of runs. If we can score them early, I can get into a rhythm."
Beckett has won just two of his last five starts, a span that included two weeks on the disabled list with torn skin on his right middle finger. He allowed season highs of six runs and 10 hits, with a walk and a strikeout in five innings before leaving down 6-0.
"It was a fun run," Beckett said after taking his first loss. "There's no way I take all the credit. If you're not striking everybody out, you need those eight guys behind you."
Boston's loss, coupled with the Yankees' 7-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, trimmed the Red Sox lead in the AL East to 7½ games, just about half of the 14½ games New York trailed by just two weeks ago. The Red Sox have lost three of four and scored two or fewer runs in seven of their last nine games.
Atkins was hitting .220 at the end of May, but he's batted .315 in his last 15 games to raise his average to .242. By the time he doubled to start the fifth inning on Thursday, he was just a triple away from hitting for the cycle.
"For two seasons, all we did was throw him praise. And then, six weeks into the season, we had some people throwing dirt on him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He is going to figure it out. He is starting to figure it out. He is going to be a big part for us."
The Rockies outscored Boston 20-5 to take the three-game series 2-1, winning for the eighth time in 11 games and improving to 33-33 for the season -- the first time they'd been at .500 since losing on April 14. They are 6-0-1 in their last seven series, and have won a franchise-record four consecutive series on the road.
Matsui doubled and scored on Todd Helton's single in the first. Boston loaded the bases in the second, but J.D. Drew hit a hard liner up the middle that was caught by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for the second out; Francis struck out Dustin Pedroia to end the inning.
"We're looking at maybe being up 2-1 with a full-fledged rally going," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "They turn it around in the top of the inning with a grand slam, so it's a big swing. It's obviously a pivotal point in the game."
Matsui led off the third with a single, then Matt Holliday lined one into the left-center gap, where Crisp made a nice slide to keep it from going to the wall. But he popped up and inexplicably threw the ball toward left-fielder Manny Ramirez, who was maybe a dozen yards closer to the infield.
Ramirez leaped but couldn't get to the ball, and it rolled around in the outfield. With nobody out, Matsui was held at third by substitute third-base coach Glenallen Hill, but it didn't matter when Helton walked to load the bases and Atkins cleared them with a shot into the Monster Seats.
|Garrett Atkins doubles here and also adds a grand slam to help deny Josh Beckett a 10-0 record. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Willy Taveras, DH||5||0||0||1||0||1||1||.310|
|Kaz Matsui, 2B||5||2||3||0||0||1||1||.328|
|Matt Holliday, LF||5||2||2||1||0||0||2||.353|
|Todd Helton, 1B||4||1||1||1||1||2||0||.323|
|Garrett Atkins, 3B||5||1||3||4||0||0||0||.242|
|Brad Hawpe, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.294|
|Ryan Spilborghs, CF||3||1||0||0||1||0||1||.275|
|Yorvit Torrealba, C||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.243|
|Troy Tulowitzki, SS||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||.267|
|2B - Kaz Matsui (8, Beckett), Matt Holliday (24, Beckett), Garrett Atkins (18, Beckett)|
|HR - Matt Holliday (11, Beckett), Garrett Atkins (5, Beckett)|
|SH - Troy Tulowitzki (2)|
|RBI - Willy Taveras (13), Matt Holliday (48), Todd Helton (34), Garrett Atkins 4 (28)|
|2-OUT RBI - Matt Holliday (11), Todd Helton (17)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|E - Todd Helton (2, Throwing)|
|Jeff Francis (W,6-5)||5||7||0||0||2||6||0||3.61|
|HBP - Ortiz (by Jeff Francis)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Francis 103-60, Jorge Julio 11-8, Tom Martin 9-6, LaTroy Hawkins 7-7, Manuel Corpas 10-7, Brian Fuentes 22-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Francis 3-7, Jorge Julio 1-1, LaTroy Hawkins 1-0, Manuel Corpas 3-0, Brian Fuentes 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jeff Francis 26, Jorge Julio 3, Tom Martin 2, LaTroy Hawkins 3, Manuel Corpas 3, Brian Fuentes 5|
|Boston Red Sox|
|J.D. Drew, RF||5||0||0||0||0||1||7||.230|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||5||0||1||0||0||1||5||.311|
|David Ortiz, DH||3||0||0||0||1||2||0||.333|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||4||1||2||0||1||1||2||.293|
|Kevin Youkilis, 1B||5||0||1||0||0||2||4||.335|
|Mike Lowell, 3B||5||0||2||1||0||1||4||.316|
|Jason Varitek, C||4||0||2||0||0||2||2||.275|
|Coco Crisp, CF||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.223|
|Julio Lugo, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.212|
|RBI - Mike Lowell (49)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mike Lowell (17)|
|Team LOB - 14|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Josh Beckett (L,9-1)||5||10||6||6||1||1||2||3.39|
|WP - Josh Beckett (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Beckett 100-63, Kyle Snyder 21-18, Mike Timlin 22-12, Javier Lopez 13-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Beckett 8-6, Kyle Snyder 1-2, Mike Timlin 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Josh Beckett 26, Kyle Snyder 7, Mike Timlin 5, Javier Lopez 3|
|Attendance - 36939|
|Game Time - 3:14|
|Temperature - 56|
|Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Bruce Froemming, Third Base - Mike Winters|