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BOSTON -- Josh Beckett did exactly what he needed to satisfy the fired-up fans at Fenway Park.
Beckett pitched his best game of the season, striking out nine and scattering four hits over seven innings as the Red Sox shut out the Seattle Mariners 5-0 on Tuesday, extending Boston's winning streak to five.
Beckett hit 93 mph on the first pitch he threw and struck out leadoff batter Dustin Ackley, quickly establishing he was well past his poor start of last week.
"I don't think I was trying to make a statement," Beckett said. "I don't even know that I did. Location was key for me today, I just kept the ball down."
The timing couldn't have been better. Beckett lasted less than three innings in a start against Cleveland on Thursday, when he was booed off the mound after allowing seven runs on seven hits.
Beckett (3-4), who was also celebrating his 32nd birthday, was still going strong through seven innings but manager Bobby Valentine pulled him before the eighth inning as a cold rain started to get heavier.
"You just want to keep your team in the game. The starters have been doing that lately, and it's nice to keep that going," Beckett said. "It's nice. These guys have been playing their butts off all year. It's nice to be able to keep that going."
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Beckett also improved his status among Boston fans, who already were seething last week over news Beckett had played golf the week before after being scratched from a start because of back stiffness. They unloaded on him as he made his way to the dugout, Beckett's head down the entire way.
Beckett didn't give the fans a much of a chance to boo him in this outing. After he fanned Ackley, Beckett picked up two more strikeouts in the second and then struck out the side in the third with the game still scoreless.
"Josh was the king of the hill today," Valentine said. "Josh has things that motivate him, and he was certainly motivated today. He's one of our big boys. He doesn't need to follow. He can lead, and he wanted to today."
David Ortiz hit his eighth homer and scored a run after putting down a surprise bunt to lead off the fifth inning. Mike Aviles hit a pair of doubles and drove in two runs for the Red Sox, who are one win shy of tying their longest winning streak of the season.
The Mariners fell to 1-4 on a 10-game road trip and were shut out for the fifth time this season. Blake Beavan (1-4) went four innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks.
A couple of defensive blunders, including a missed foul popup and blown double-play, also didn't help.
"We cost ourselves a couple of runs with the defense today. No doubt," manager Eric Wedge said. "No errors, but we make a couple of plays there it saves us a couple of runs and in that type of ballgame that's a considerable difference."
Ichiro Suzuki was the only Seattle player with more than one hit, singling twice. The Mariners thought they had a run in the second on Justin Smoak's high shot to the right-field corner, but first base umpire Eric Cooper called it a foul ball and the call stood after a video review.
Smoak, who ended up striking out, felt he was robbed of a home run.
"From my view, which is right down the line, it went right over the pole," Smoak said. "They looked at it. They don't have the camera angles here because it being an old stadium and stuff like that. So the angle they had really didn't show anything."
The game remained scoreless until Ortiz led off the third with a solo shot into the Red Sox bullpen on a 3-2 pitch. Boston added two more runs in the fourth when Cody Ross walked with one out, Daniel Nava singled and Aviles hit an RBI double. Nava scored on Ryan Sweeney's groundout.
Ortiz caught the Mariners -- and everybody else at Fenway Park -- off-guard when he laid a bunt down the third-base line for a leadoff single in the fifth. Seattle's infield was shifted toward the right and nobody had a chance to field the ball in time.
Ortiz advanced to second when Adrian Gonzalez hit a grounder and shortstop Munenori Kawasaki pulled his foot off second base before throwing out Gonzalez at first. Ortiz took third on Charlie Furbush's wild pitch to Will Middlebrooks, who followed with a line drive single.
"We're going to bring some positive around here," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "We played good today. we've been playing good so we've just got to keep it rolling."
|On his 32 birthday, Josh Beckett throws seven shutout innings and strikes out nine to lead the Red Sox over the Mariners. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Dustin Ackley, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.248|
|John Jaso, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.255|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.296|
|Jesus Montero, DH||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.256|
|Kyle Seager, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||4||.275|
|Justin Smoak, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.208|
|Mike Carp, LF||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||.139|
|Michael Saunders, CF||3||0||1||0||0||2||1||.226|
|Munenori Kawasaki, SS||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.176|
|SB - Ichiro Suzuki 2 (5, 2nd base off Beckett/Saltalamacchia, 3rd base off Beckett/Saltalamacchia)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|Blake Beavan (L,1-4)||4||5||3||3||2||4||1||4.58|
|HBP - Nava (by Blake Beavan)|
|WP - Charlie Furbush (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Blake Beavan 93-57, Charlie Furbush 33-23, Steve Delabar 16-9, Tom Wilhelmsen 15-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Blake Beavan 3-5, Charlie Furbush 2-3, Tom Wilhelmsen 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Blake Beavan 20, Charlie Furbush 8, Steve Delabar 4, Tom Wilhelmsen 5|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Ryan Sweeney, CF||5||0||0||1||0||2||3||.319|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.311|
|David Ortiz, DH||3||2||2||1||1||0||1||.353|
|Adrian Gonzalez, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||2||1||.287|
|Will Middlebrooks, 3B||4||0||1||1||0||2||3||.300|
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.261|
|Cody Ross, RF||3||1||0||0||1||1||3||.250|
|Daniel Nava, LF||3||1||1||0||0||1||1||.533|
|Mike Aviles, SS||4||0||2||2||0||0||2||.260|
|2B - Jarrod Saltalamacchia (8, Wilhelmsen), Mike Aviles 2 (11, Beavan, Wilhelmsen)|
|HR - David Ortiz (8, Beavan)|
|RBI - Ryan Sweeney (12), David Ortiz (27), Will Middlebrooks (14), Mike Aviles 2 (23)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mike Aviles (10)|
|SB - Will Middlebrooks (2, 2nd base off Furbush/Jaso)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Josh Beckett (W,3-4)||7||4||0||0||2||9||0||4.97|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Beckett 93-60, Rich Hill 13-7, Alfredo Aceves 11-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Beckett 5-7, Rich Hill 2-1, Alfredo Aceves 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Josh Beckett 27, Rich Hill 3, Alfredo Aceves 3|
|Attendance - 37292|
|Game Time - 2:53|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Jeff Kellogg, First Base - Eric Cooper, Second Base - Marty Foster, Third Base - Tim Timmons|