CHICAGO -- Josh Beckett pitched through an uncharacteristically wild first inning to became the major league's first 16-game winner.
"Three walks. I definitely wasn't too excited about that, but to get out of that inning with only one run, was a big deal. I was lucky," Beckett said. "The guys picked me up and scored runs."
Beckett (16-5) allowed seven hits and three runs over 5 2/3 innings and Jason Varitek had four RBI as the Red Sox put together a pair of four-run innings, one in the fourth and another in the ninth.
The Red Sox, who have the best record in baseball, handed the White Sox their 10th loss in 12 games.
The announced attendance was 30,581 but there were only about a third of that number in the stands for the makeup of Thursday night's rainout. They included many noisy Boston fans, some chanting "Let's Go Red Sox."
Being a first place team and playing in front of thousands of empty seats was strange enough.
"That was weird, wasn't it? I think everyone felt it. We tried to create our own energy because there wasn't much here," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Also strange was Beckett's first inning. He'd walked only five batters total in his previous five outings. And he hadn't walked more than two batters in 13 straight starts, but all of a sudden he couldn't find the plate.
"I just wasn't throwing strikes," Beckett said.
Third baseman Mike Lowell said Beckett is able to grind it out when he doesn't have his best stuff, something he struggled to do when both played for the Florida Marlins.
"He's matured. The way he's composed himself, especially when things are going wrong," Lowell said.
Varitek hit a two-run single in a four-run fourth and a two-run homer when Boston scored four against Mike Myers in the ninth.
Beckett, now 9-1 in 10 starts away from Fenway Park this season, left after giving up back-to-back singles to Danny Richar and Andy Gonzalez in the sixth inning. Javier Lopez, just promoted from Triple-A, got Jerry Owens on a fly ball to end the threat.
Coco Crisp started Boston's big fourth with a single. Manny Ramirez singled one out later and Lowell followed with an RBI single. J.D. Drew reached on second baseman Richar's error to load the bases and Varitek then hit a two-run single off the left-field fence. Eric Hinske had another run-scoring hit for a 5-1 lead.
Josh Fields hit his 16th homer after a single by fellow rookie Owens in the fifth to cut it to 5-3.
Jon Garland (8-10), coming off a performance against Seattle in which he gave up 10 hits and 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings, lost his third straight start, and the 18-game winner in 2005 and 2006 hasn't won since July 27. Garland allowed nine hits and six runs in seven-plus innings.
"That fourth inning, some of those hits they got killed me," Garland said.
He was also aware of the many Red Sox fans at U.S. Cellular Field. They were easy to hear with so many empty seats.
"I felt like I was on the road today. That was a little embarrassing, but what do you do?" Garland said. "People got to go to work and they (Red Sox fans) are here to see their team."
- White Sox DH Jim Thome was a late scratch with a stiff back.
- Hinske, who left Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay with a muscle cramp in his right calf, returned to the lineup for the Red Sox.