BOSTON -- Derek Lowe returned to face the franchise he helped win the 2004 World Series and ran into the ace of the '07 title.
Josh Beckett allowed just five singles for his first shutout since joining the Red Sox, and Jason Varitek doubled twice against his ex-batterymate to lead Boston to a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
Lowe received a loud ovation when he left in the seventh, but Beckett's came at the end of the game, and it was even louder.
"A nice gesture by the fans. They clearly didn't have to do it. They didn't come to watch me," said Lowe, who spent 7½ years with the Red Sox and earned the victory in the clinching games of all three 2004 postseason rounds. "They're great fans. They're very loyal. But you tip your hat to Beckett. It was a great game, but it was a loss."
Beckett (8-3) rebounded after giving up a season-high 11 hits in his last outing, throwing just 94 pitches for his first complete game of the year and the sixth of his career. He struck out seven, walked none and only allowed one runner to reach second base to win for the sixth time in seven decisions.
"I thought he did everything," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He was economical. That was fun to watch."
It was Boston's second shutout of the season the first shutout for a Red Sox pitcher ever in interleague play. The Braves lost for the seventh time in 10 games.
In his first appearance at Fenway since the 2004 AL Championship Series -- and his first-ever game against the Red Sox -- Lowe (7-5) allowed three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out two. Boston scored single runs in the fifth and sixth and again in the seventh to chase Lowe, but the Fenway crowd rose to give him a standing ovation as he walked to the visitor's dugout and he waved his cap in appreciation.
"The Boston fans -- they don't forget their guys," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
And Francona is among them.
"He was the guy we remembered when he was going good," the Red Sox manager said. "When guys are here and they go to the Yankees, they're probably not going to cheer them. But fans here remember what guys have done and I think that was good. So often we forget."
Varitek and Lowe came to the Red Sox in 1997 a lopsided trade for heartbreak closer Heathcliff Slocumb, and together they became the core of the team that would lead the franchise to the '04 World Series title. Lowe was bounced from the Red Sox rotation after struggling down the stretch but was pulled back out of the bullpen as Boston and the New York Yankees engaged in an epic, seven-game AL Championship Series.
Lowe and Beckett were locked in a scoreless game until the fifth, when Varitek doubled off center fielder Nate McLouth's glove and scored on Nick A. Green's's double. J.D. Drew doubled to lead off the sixth and scored on Kevin Youkilis' single to make it 2-0. Varitek doubled and scored again in the seventh.
"My buddy, Varitek, who I've never pitched against before," Lowe said.
- 3B Mike Lowell got the day off and might get another on Sunday because he's "feeling beat up," Francona said.
- The game lasted a brief 2 hours, 11 minutes.
- Both center fielders made diving catches: Jacoby Ellsbury grabbed Jeff Francoeur's liner before sliding short of the Green Monster in the third. McLouth caught Jason Bay's sinking liner just off the grass in the second.
- It was Beckett's first shutout since Aug. 13, 2005, when he was with the Marlins.