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Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Red Sox 3

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Other than a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning that allowed the go-ahead run to score, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett pitched pretty well. Even so, the Sox came away with a 5-3 loss in the series finale Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

More important than Beckett’s decent outing was the fact the Red Sox lost the game and dropped the three-game series to the Rangers. Boston will have Thursday off before beginning a three-game series against the AL East-leading New York Yankees.

Despite dropping to 5-9, Beckett worked seven innings and allowed four runs on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

It was -- again -- one inning that got the best of Beckett when the Rangers pushed across three runs in the bottom of the fourth.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz led off with a solo home run off reliever Matt Albers as Texas gained a 5-3 advantage.

Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks each provided a solo home run for the Red Sox.

PAYBACK: Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla hit the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre in the head during Tuesday’s 2-1 win by Boston. Beltre was removed from the game and examined at the ballpark. Fortunately, he was fine and was back in the lineup on Wednesday. Rangers starter Derek Holland returned the favor on Wednesday when he drilled Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez in the hip during his first at-bat in the top of the first. In the bottom of the seventh, Beckett drilled the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus in the elbow, and he would score the go-ahead run.

HOMECOMING KING: Middlebrooks grew up a hit-and-run away from Rangers Ballpark, and during this three-game series against the Rangers, he had hundreds of friends and family attend each game from his hometown of Texarkana, which is about 2 1/2 hours from Arlington. He did not disappoint. Middlebrooks went 6-for-12, including a double and solo home run. He also played solid defense, as usual, in the series.

THE REPLACEMENT: For the second consecutive game, Daniel Nava replaced Carl Crawford in left field during the late innings with the game tied. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine first made the move on Tuesday with the scored tied at 1-1 and explained afterward he was more comfortable with Nava in that situation because Crawford is still dealing with elbow issues. Valentine made a similar move Wednesday with the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh.

UP NEXT: The Red Sox will have Thursday off before starting a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Aaron Cook (2-3, 3.50 ERA) will start for Boston, while the Yankees send righty Phil Hughes (9-8, 4.09) to the hill. On Saturday, the Sox’s Jon Lester (5-8, 5.46) will face Yankees southpaw CC Sabathia (10-3, 3.30). In the series finale on Sunday, Boston lefty Felix Doubront (10-5, 4.54) will face New York righty Hiroki Kuroda (10-7, 3.34).