BALTIMORE -- Josh Beckett has never been shy about letting it be known when he believes his postgame inquisitors are straying too far afield. This was one of those times.
"What is this, TMZ?'' Beckett said, referring to the gossipy website, after Wednesday night's 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. "I thought we were talking about a baseball game. You want to know about bat flips and talking to umpires. I think, why don't we just stick to the game.''
The flipped bat, cockily dispatched by Luke Scott in the fourth inning after he hammered a two-run home run onto Eutaw Street, and the heated discussion with plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, which followed the inning in which Beckett gave up back-to-back home runs by Scott and Adam Jones, did not occur in a vacuum, of course.
Neither Scott's flamboyant gesture nor the exchange with Culbreth, who appeared to initiate the discussion as Beckett pointed animatedly into the Orioles dugout, cost the Sox the game, Boston rallying to tie the score at 4 behind an RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez and a three-run home run by Kevin Youkilis. But they were clearly a sore subject for Beckett, who other than that momentary lapse pitched well enough to win his third straight decision.
Beckett's on-field reaction to Scott's flip, which came a long beat after he crushed a Beckett cutter 426 feet?
Well, the Sox pitcher isn't wired for sound, but it appeared he followed Scott's passage around the bases with a monologue worthy of Mamet, who never met an expletive he didn't like.
"I wasn't paying attention,'' Scott told Baltimore reporters. "I was just rounding the bases, enjoying the moment and thanking the Lord at the same time. I respect every pitcher that takes the mound against me. He's a tremendous competitor and I have all the respect in the world for him.''
Before Beckett made it clear he was through discussing the issue, he briefly responded to questions about the bat flip. His reaction?
"It's not my deal,'' he said.
When the followup question noted that his observed response suggested displeasure, he tersely replied: "Those things have a way of working themselves out.''
If Beckett momentarily lost his focus, Jones quickly exploited the opening, jumping on a 2-and-0 sinker that Beckett said he left right down the middle.
Catcher Jason Varitek didn't think it was a focus issue.
"He tried to get the ball down,'' the catcher said. "He threw a decent curveball that could have gone either way early in that count (it was called a ball). I don't think that pulled away from Josh's focus.''
The substance of the conversation with Culbreth was a bit murkier. Beckett had yelled at the umpire to toss him a new ball after Jones dispatched a 2-and-0 pitch into the seats to make it 4-0. As he came off the mound at the end of the inning, Culbreth headed toward him and they met at the third-base line, with Beckett clearly gesturing at the Orioles' dugout. It's possible Culbreth was suggesting he abandon any notion of retaliation.
Regardless, Beckett did not administer any frontier justice, sticking to the business at hand as he retired Scott on a fly ball the next time he faced him.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, asked about Scott, said: "I don't know, I don't watch that. Our guys do that sometimes, too.''
Beckett's change-up continues to be an impressive addition to his arsenal. His takeaway on the game: "Came up one short. We did a good job of battling back, and that's good to see.''