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Beckett earns third straight win as BoSox edge Mariners

BOSTON (AP) -- Josh Beckett has a fastball that reaches about 100
mph and a toughness that stops rallies dead in their tracks.

He showed both Sunday.

Beckett struck out two of Seattle's best hitters after a runner
reached third with one out in the sixth inning and the Boston Red
Sox went on to a 3-2 win over the Mariners on Sunday.

"I'd rather have a 1-2-3 inning every time but I was fortunate
to make some pitches there," Beckett said. "I always prided
myself in those situations and trying to get out of them. Builds a
lot of character."

Coming off the best of his four seasons with Florida, Beckett
joined Boston in an offseason trade and has allowed one earned run
in seven innings in each of his three starts for a 1.29 ERA. He
gave up six hits and one walk with five strikeouts.

Jarrod Washburn (1-2) gave up only three hits in six innings but
issued four walks and threw two wild pitches as Seattle lost for
just the second time in five games.

Beckett is 3-0 for the first time in his career, but Curt
Schilling has the same record and is Boston's top starter.

Beckett "is anybody else's number one," Seattle's Richie
Sexson said. "We had our hands full today."

Sexson certainly did.

After Boston broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth with the help of a
walk, a wild pitch and a hit batsman, Seattle's Raul Ibanez tripled
with one out in the sixth. Up came Sexson, the 6-foot-8 cleanup
hitter. Beckett reared back and fired ... just a 79 mph curveball.

"That 3-2 curveball he threw to Richie Sexson today was
filthy," Red Sox second baseman Mark Loretta said. "Richie was
still talking about it when I got on first in the ninth inning. ...
He's not afraid at all. He's ultraconfident."

The next batter was Adrian Beltre, who led the NL with 48 homers
in 2004. Beckett reared back again and really fired, a 98 mph
fastball that Beltre swung at and missed.

"Either one of those guys can easily tie the game or put them
ahead," Beckett said. "You're happy with however you get them
out."

Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless eighth for Boston and Jonathan
Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save in six
opportunities. Papelbon tied Jeff Gray's team record set in 1990
for saves in one month by a rookie.

"I understand that eventually there's going to be that day
where I may not close the door," Papelbon said, "but right now
I'm just trying to run with it and do the best I can every time I
get the ball."

Boston gave Beckett the lead in the fourth when Jason Varitek
singled and took second when a high, outside pitch eluded catcher
Kenji Johjima for a wild pitch. The Red Sox loaded the bases when
Dustan Mohr walked and Wily Mo Pena was hit by a pitch. Alex
Gonzalez then singled Varitek home for a 3-2 lead.

"It was breezy. It affected my command a little bit," Washburn
said. "When I tried to throw a cutter, it cut too much so I
shelved that early in the game. It was making my fastball move all
over the place."

The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead in the first, scoring one
unearned run on a disputed play. A walk to Kevin Youkilis and a
double by Loretta put runners at second and third with no outs.
After David Ortiz popped out, Manny Ramirez grounded to first
baseman Sexson, scoring Youkilis and sending Loretta to third.

Varitek then grounded to third baseman Beltre, whose throw to
first pulled Sexson off the bag. The swipe tag appeared to nick a
sliding Varitek, but first base umpire Rick Reed ruled Varitek safe
and Loretta scored despite Sexson's protest.

"I thought I got him pretty good, so that's what startled me,"
Sexson said. "But the game's too long to blame on one play."

Seattle tied it in the third with the help of another misplay by
right fielder Pena, who had misjudged Ibanez's liner that went for
a double in the Mariners' 3-0 win Saturday.

This time, Ichiro Suzuki was on first on Loretta's error with
one out when Jose Lopez hit a fly ball that tailed toward the
right-field line. Pena charged it, but it bounced in front of him
then rolled past him as Lopez turned it into an RBI triple. Ibanez
then singled him in, tying it at 2.<
^Notes@ Suzuki is 0-for-11 in the first three games of the series.
... LHP Lenny DiNardo was picked to start for Boston in Monday's
game against Seattle in place of David Wells, who went on the
disabled list Saturday. ... RF Trot Nixon is expected to return to
Boston's lineup Monday after being sidelined since straining his
groin last Tuesday. ... Seattle DH Matt Lawton played for the first
time this season since being activated last Tuesday. He had been on
the restricted list for 10 games after testing positive for
steroids last Nov. 2.