ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Josh Beckett pitched a one-hitter and Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run homer to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.One day after James Shields cooled Boston’s red-hot offence with a five-hit shutout that stopped a nine-game winning streak for the AL East leaders, Beckett (6-2) tossed a gem of his own — limiting the Rays to Reid Brignac’s third-inning infield single while striking out six and walking none.
Youkilis homered off Jeremy Hellickson (7-5) in the seventh, ending the rookie right-hander’s streak of consecutive innings without allowing a run at home to 24. The Red Sox were held to one hit before Dustin Pedroia tripled and AL batting leader Adrian Gonzalez drew an intentional walk to set the stage for Youkilis’ towering drive over the left field wall.
Beckett retired the last 19 batters he faced. The right-hander threw 97 pitches to outduel Hellickson, who allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings.
The Red Sox outscored opponents 83-36 during the longest winning streak in the majors this season, however they have generated few opportunities the past two nights against the Rays.
Gonzalez had three of the team’s five hits off Shields in the series opener, all singles. Pedroia singled in the first for the first hit off Hellickson and Jacoby Ellsbury drew a fourth-inning walk, however both baserunners were erased on double plays.
Beckett was just as impressive.
The Boston right-hander retired eight straight before Brignac hit a slow roller up the third base line and easily beat the throw to first with two outs in the third. Beckett’s errant pickoff throw allowed Brignac to move into scoring position, however Johnny Damon struck out to end the inning.
Damon finished 0 for 4, ending his franchise-record on-base (by hit, walk or hit by pitch) streak at 39 games — the longest stretch in the majors since Florida’s Logan Morrison’s streak of 42 games last season.
Notes: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was among the crowd of 19,388. … The Rays are two games into a stretch in which they will play 14 of 32 against the Red Sox and Yankees. … Boston manager Terry Francona said LHP Andrew Miller, currently at Triple-A Pawtucket, will not opt of his contract, which the pitcher could have done Wednesday. It’s likely Miller will be called up soon. … Red Sox SS Jed Lowrie was back in the lineup after missing two games due a sore left shoulder. … Francona doesn’t expect RHP Bobby Jenks (back tightness) will be ready to come off the DL when eligible next week. Jenks is currently throwing on level ground.
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