BOSTON -- Josh Beckett's first outing back in the Boston Red Sox's rotation was a double bogey.
Embroiled in controversy over playing golf last week after being given a start off due to a back ailment, Beckett lasted just 2 1/3 innings Thursday in Boston's 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He gave up seven runs on seven hits and two walks.
The Fenway Park fans booed him off the field.
"I pitched like (expletive)," Beckett said. "That's what happens. Smart fans."
Before the series opener against the Indians, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine downplayed Beckett's golf outing on May 3. Beckett had been scheduled to start May 5 against the Baltimore Orioles, but Valentine announced May 2 Beckett would be skipped because of a sore right lat muscle.
"I've never see a pitcher get hurt playing golf," Valentine said pregame. "Again, I didn't think he was injured when he was skipped."
Whether or not Beckett was injured when he played golf, the wisdom of his decision to play on the team's off day certainly looks questionable in hindsight. Beckett is now 2-4, and his ERA jumped from 4.45 to 5.97.
After the game, Beckett was unapologetic for his decision.
"No. I spend my off days the way I want to spend them," he said. "We get 18 off days a year. I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves.
"I spend my off days the way I want to spend them."
It was Beckett's shortest outing since he went 2 1/3 innings and gave up eight runs on Aug. 17, 2008, against Toronto. It is the second time he has allowed seven runs in a start this season, as he did so April 7 in Detroit. Prior to 2012, he had not allowed seven runs in 39 consecutive starts since an Aug. 8, 2010, outing at Yankee Stadium.
"He started off really good, throwing strikes and kept the ball down the first inning," Valentine said. "Everything seemed to be really good. Maybe it was just a little too much time off. Two strikes, he wasn't executing his pitches, had a split left up, curveball left up, and they got whacked."
Red Sox starting pitchers are averaging 5 2/3 innings per start with a combined 6.06 ERA.
Cleveland scored three runs in the second. With one out, Shin-Soo Choo walked, took third on Michael Brantley's double and scored on Casey Kotchman's sacrifice fly. Jack Hannahan's third home run of the season put the Indians up 3-0.
Jason Kipnis led off the third with his sixth home run of the season. Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Travis Hafner walked before Carlos Santana flied out. Choo's double scored Cabrera, and Brantley's second double in as many innings scored Hafner and Choo, ending Beckett's outing. Left-hander Andrew Miller entered and retired the next two batters to end the inning.
"Our guys did a very nice job with runners in scoring position," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "We did a fine job of moving guys over and driving them in, picking up those cheap RBI whenever we had to."
Meanwhile, Derek Lowe, one of the heroes of the Red Sox's 2004 World Series championship team, returning to Fenway Park for the first time since that season, handcuffed Red Sox batters with his sinker. He pitched six innings, scattering nine hits and two runs.
"He knows how to pitch with a lead," Acta said. "He had a lot of traffic throughout his outing, but he always seemed to make that pitch when he had to."
Lowe improved to 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA.
"You can't ask for any better start than getting seven runs in the first three innings," Lowe said. "I did my best to try to give them back.
"All in all, it was a good day."
The Red Sox got single runs in the second, fifth, and seventh innings. In the second, Adrian Gonzalez doubled and scored on Mike Aviles' single. In the fifth, Daniel Nava's double scored Gonzalez. In the seventh, Dustin Pedroia's leadoff home run extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
NOTES: Hannahan was back in the lineup after sitting out Wednesday with a sore groin. ... Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey said he is scheduled to visit Dr. Thomas Graham in Cleveland next week. Graham performed the April 4 surgery on Bailey's right thumb to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. ... Boston left fielder Carl Crawford, out since having left wrist surgery in mid-January and more recently slowed by a sore left elbow, said he is progressing but does not have a timetable for when he can start throwing. He said he may begin hitting before he starts throwing. ... Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, out due to a lower back strain, is eligible to come off the DL on Monday but has not started baseball activities yet. He is doing cardio exercises and core-strengthening exercises. ... The Red Sox called up outfielder Daniel Nava before the game and optioned pitcher Clayton Mortensen to Triple-A Pawtucket. Left-hander Jason Thomas was designated for assignment to make room for Nava on the 40-man roster. ... The Red Sox held a moment of silence and tribute before the game for public-address announcer Carl Beane, who was killed in a one-car crash after suffering a heart attack Wednesday. The flag in center field was flown at half-staff.
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