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Josh Beckett’s performance punctuated solid trip for the Red Sox starting staff

04.29.12 at 6:53 pm ET

CHICAGO ‘€“ It wasn’t the end result Josh Beckett or the Red Sox wanted, but a closer look reveals something that should supply a healthy dose of optimism going forward.

For the sixth time during the seven-game road trip, the Sox starter went at least six innings. In this case, Beckett lasted 6 2/3 frames, giving up three runs in what finished as a 4-1

The entire road swing saw the Sox’€™ starters total 45 innings, to go along with a 5-1 mark (Daniel Bard earned one of the trip’€™s win out of the bullpen). It was the third-most innings of any team’€™s starting rotation during that span.

‘€œYeah, this week it seemed like things were coming together nicely,’€ said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. ‘€œMainly because of the starting pitching obviously. The bullpen fell in nicely.’€

But it was the starters who helped allow the bullpen to figure itself out, which they did in solid fashion. (The relievers finished the trip giving up two runs in 17 innings.)

‘€œIt’s a pretty good road trip as a team,’€ Beckett said. ‘€œAny time you can come to any big league ball club, sweep one and take three or four on another one. Four-game series are tough enough. Pitchers get to see our hitters a lot more than the hitters get to see the pitchers.’€

A sign of the times was the amount of pitches turned in by the Red Sox starters ‘€“ Jon Lester and Beckett ‘€“ over the past two outings. For the first time since 1998, Sox starters threw 121 or more pitches in back-to-back outings (Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield), with Lester tossing 121 and Beckett tying his career-high at 126.

Even before Beckett’€™s latest start, the Red Sox starters were fifth in the major leagues with 101.3 pitches per game. Last season they were 16th with 97.1 per outing.

‘€œJosh was ‘€¦ geez, he was good with all his pitches,’€ Valentine said. ‘€œMaybe a mistake or two in the (three-run) first inning. Stuff might have been a little flat that inning. The rest of the game, right up until the last pitch he threw, it looked like he had good movement, location, his curveball was good. One of those days we didn’€™t score for him.’€

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