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Beckett wins debut as Nixon, BoSox nip Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- 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 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 Papelbon 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.

Game notes
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.