BOSTON -- Josh Beckett watched college football during a rain delay of more than 2 hours. Then he put on a show that Red Sox fans hadn't seen in a month.
Boston's ace got his first victory since Aug. 12, allowing one run on four hits, and Alex Gonzalez led an eight-run third inning as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-1 in a game called by rain in the top of the sixth Saturday night."There was a different football game on every TV that you walked by so we stayed pretty busy," before the game began 2 hours, 5 minutes late, Beckett said. "I've been through these situations enough to where I know that I can't expend a lot of energy worrying about when the game is going to start."
• Boston improved to 15-2 this season following an off day.
• Josh Beckett allowed one run on four hits in five innings to earn his 15th win of the season. It's the first win for Beckett since Aug. 12, and he improved to 19-9 in the month of September in his career.
• Kevin Youkilis hit his 25th homer of the season, going 2 for 2 with two runs and two RBIs.
• The Rays have lost nine straight, their longest losing streak since an 11-game slide in 2007.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
It was another encouraging sign for Beckett (15-6) after a four-game stretch in which he allowed 24 earned runs and 12 homers in 24 1/3 innings. His comeback began last Monday when he gave up three runs in seven innings in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox in which he retired his last 10 batters."Hopefully, that will bring his confidence up for his next start," said Kevin Youkilis, who singled in a run in the third and hit his 25th homer of the year, a solo shot, in the fourth.Beckett allowed just one single through four innings and two more in the fifth. The Rays' final hit was a double by Evan Longoria leading off the sixth, the last batter before the field was covered during a pouring rain. After a 55-minute delay, the game was called at 11:54 p.m.Boston increased its AL wild-card lead to 3 games over Texas, which lost to Seattle. Tampa Bay's losing streak reached nine games.For his last 2½ games, the timing of Beckett's delivery improved and he avoided overthrowing the ball which had led to poorly located pitches, pitching coach John Farrell said. On Saturday, he struck out four and walked one."That's what I feel like I should do every time out," said Beckett, whose five-game winless stretch was his longest since July 29-Aug. 19, 2006. "You've just got to keep grinding every day and things end up working out."There was no rain most of the time during the first delay, but forecasts showed improving conditions. Friday night's game was postponed by rain after just 12 minutes of play that began after a delay of 2 hours, 20 minutes. It was rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday.Wade Davis (0-1) was shelled after an outstanding major league debut six days earlier when he left with a 3-1 lead after seven innings -- he allowed three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts. But Detroit's Brandon Inge hit a grand slam in the ninth off Russ Springer.On Saturday, Davis retired the side in order in the first. He walked the first two batters in the second then struck out the last three. But he fell apart in the third when Gonzalez had two hits, two runs, three RBIs and a stolen base.He didn't blame the rain delay."I had to get ready and then not get ready and then get ready a couple times," Davis said, "but it came down to I still felt good when I was out there and I didn't execute."Gonzalez led off with a single, stole second and took third on Dustin Pedroia's one-out single. Then Victor Martinez, Youkilis and David Ortiz hit consecutive RBI singles for a 3-0 lead.Jason Bay followed with a walk, loading the bases, and Youkilis scored on a wild pitch. J.D. Drew then was walked intentionally, reloading the bases, and Gonzalez cleared them with a double.Dale Thayer replaced Davis and allowed an RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury inside the first-base line that gave Beckett an 8-0 cushion."You can't give up that many runs in an inning and expect to beat him," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's going to put it on cruise control."The rain resumed in the top of the fifth, but play continued as Tampa Bay scored its only run.With one out, Akinori Iwamura singled, only the second hit off Beckett. Dioner Navarro was hit on the foot by a pitch and Jason Bartlett singled in a run before Carl Crawford flied out to end the fifth."It was a long day," Boston manager Terry Francona said, "but it was a productive day."
Tampa Bay is 12-18 since Aug. 7 after going 52-34 from April 30 to Aug. 5. ... Martinez extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a stretch in which he is batting .356 (16 for 45). ... Youkilis went 2 for 2 with a walk and is hitting .400 in his last 13 games (18 for 45). ... Tampa Bay's Fernando Perez made a twisting catch in deep center field but struck out in both his at-bats. ... Boston won its sixth straight home game.