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The Red Sox dropped their fourth straight game on Monday by a final score of 4-1 as they ran into more strong pitching, this time in the form of Miami Marlins ace Josh Johnson. The game featured the first start by Josh Beckett against his former franchise, but the Fish jumped all over him early on, putting the game out of reach with futile comeback attempts late by Boston.
Johnson had struggled for the most part this season, given that expectations have the tall right-handed pitcher leading the staff. He was shaky in the first inning, allowing both Scott Podsednik and Dustin Pedroia to reach to begin the game, but he recovered by striking out Adrian Gonzalez before getting consecutive fly outs to end the threat. The wasted early opportunity turned out to be one of the best chances the Sox would have.
Johnson settled down from there, throwing seven innings and striking out seven batters. With runners on second and third and one out in the sixth, Gonzalez lifted a fly ball deep to left field for a sacrifice fly, the lone run Johnson would be charged with.
Josh Beckett had a similar outing, but the Marlins were able to score against him when he struggled early. In the first, free agent acquisition Jose Reyes jumpstarted Miami with a triple in the gap, splitting Gonzalez playing right field and Ryan Sweeney in center. He scored on a sacrifice fly but the Marlins weren’t quite done.
After a bloop single by big slugger Giancarlo Stanton, left fielder Logan Morrison belted a double off the wall in right, which Gonzalez bobbled, allowing Stanton to score all the way from first. Without the designated hitter in the National League ballpark, David Ortiz is forced to play first place, leaving Gonzalez in right field where been playing more frequently.
Morrison then scored on another base hit, and the Marlins tacked on their fourth run in the second inning. But from there Beckett settled in and pitched very well. He retired 17 of the next 18 batters, allowing just one walk in the seventh. He finished throwing seven innings, allowing six hits (all in the first two innings), the four runs and the one walk. Without the Sox offense, he suffered his seventh loss of the season and his ERA climbs to 4.14 on the year.
After a weekend of being shut down by tremendous Washington pitching, it was the Sox offense that cost them an opportunity in the first game of their series in Miami. The middle of the lineup combined to be 0-12 in the game, and Gonzalez was 0-2 despite the sac fly and his first walk since May 15th. It came to lead off the ninth inning, but Miami closer Heath Bell recovered by striking out three straight to end the game.
One positive from the loss for Boston was the return of Mark Melancon to the majors, pitching a perfect eighth inning. Tomorrow night the teams square off again, with Clay Buchholz coming off his strongest outing of the year to face former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle. Despite a high 5.77 ERA, Buchholz will be seeking his eighth win of the year.