First-inning blues for Beckett

Take away the Yankees' five-run first inning, and Josh Beckett's outing looks pretty good. Bob DeChiara/US Presswire

BOSTON -- All things considered, Sox fans probably would have opted for another night of silence from Josh Beckett, if it meant he would have pitched better.

But while Beckett has made a recent practice of ducking out after starts, it violates his personal code to do so when he pitches poorly, so he planted himself in front of his locker Friday night and discussed an outing in which the Yankees scored five times on their first turn through the order, all in the first inning.

Ordinarily, giving up an early five-spot would have meant a certain loss for Beckett, who has gone more than six weeks since his last win (May 20), due in great part to the fact the Sox had scored a total of eight runs in his previous five starts while he was in the game.

Friday night, however, they took him off the hook by striking back with five in the bottom of the first, countering with a run in the bottom of the second when the Yankees scored in their half, and giving Beckett a chance for a win when he left with a 7-6 lead after five.

The bullpen couldn’t protect that advantage, however, leaving Beckett with a no-decision on a night he probably didn’t deserve any better, though at one point he struck out four Yanks in a row.

“That first inning, the strike zone was very hard for him to find,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “I’ve never seen him like that. The changeup was squirting out of his hand. He just wasn’t getting it done.’’

This was Beckett’s second start since coming off the disabled list with a strained shoulder, and every time he’s off, there’s always the concern something isn’t right.

“It was tough,’’ he said. “I was battling myself, especially in that first inning. I kind of sped up my mechanics there in the middle innings, especially out of the windup, it made a difference. The stretch was pretty tough.

“I was just thinking to get down in the zone. I was really struggling. I think in the first inning I just wanted to throw a strike, I didn't care where they hit it. I was just really battling myself with that. I think the second inning it was better, I kind of spread things out. I was having a hard time getting my arm up.’’

ESPNBoston.com intern Bill Humphrey contributed to this report.