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Life at the top of the Red Sox’ rotation

09.02.09 at 11:58 pm ET

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After the Red Sox’ 8-5 loss to the Rays on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, both members of the top of the Sox’ rotation said they were fine physically and looking ahead and not back.

Jon Lester said that the ailment that led Red Sox manager Terry Francona to take him out of the game for precautionary reasons wasn’t so much of an issue with his groin but more his right hip. The lefty said the injury felt better a day after his start and that it shouldn’t hinder any part of his preparation for his next start.

As for Josh Beckett, who struggled at the outset of his Wednesday start — surrendering four runs in the first two innings — before finishing strong in the final few frames of his five-inning stint, he felt cause for some optimism, but the outcome trumped any improvements.

“A lot of it is based on results and we lost today,” he said.

One of the positives stemming from Beckett’s outing, which was marred primarily by a three-run second inning, was the continued improvement of his two-seam fastball, which he later estimated resulted in just one hit (a single) all night.

As for the other Beckett quotes…

“The big inning was the second inning. I thought I made some adjustments after that.”

“I just wasn’t locating my pitches.”

“We lost so there wasn’t a whole lot of positives to come out of that.”

“We lost. I just have to look at the damage there in the second inning. Base hit after base hit just isn’t going to do it.”

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell was a bit more descriptive after Beckett’s start, which moved him to 0-2 with an 8.88 ERA in his last four appearances.

“He threw the ball with more consistency in terms of quality of execution of pitches. He battled enough to keep us in the ballgame. Clearly tonight there was an improvement from innings two, and then (during innings) three through six he had much better action on his curveball. His fastball command, particularly in the bottom of the zone, was better. Unfortunately the way things turned out in the end of the game it wasn’t enough for it to hold up.”

“Tonight was probably reminiscent of the game he had in Baltimore when he had a couple of rough innings and then he was able to right the ship and pitch very effectively and dominant for the last four innings he was out there.”

“I think tonight, you look at 70-percent-plus strikes and the total number of pitches he threw. I think tonight was more typical of the outings he gives, particularly in the four innings I mentioned.”

Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay also chimed in on Beckett’s outing…

“He had one or two bad innings, and that one inning got away from him. Other than that it seemed he kind of found his stuff after that. He wasn’t leaving those pitches over the middle of the plate like he had been, and I think that’s a positive for both him and us going forward is that he really finished on a good note.”

“It’s just a reminder that it isn’t over yet but ultimately we like the spot we’re in.”

That spot right now is with the Red Sox holding a lead of 2 1/2 games on Texas and five games over Tampa Bay in the Wild Card.

Read More: John Farrell, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Wild Card
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