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Beckett loses first of season

June 15, 2007|From the Associated Press

BOSTON — With a line-drive grand slam against previously unbeaten Josh Beckett, Garrett Atkins might have ended his slump.

"I know I'm a good hitter," the Rockies third baseman said Thursday night after finishing three for five to help Colorado beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-1. "I've had two bad months of swings, but we've got four months left."

Kaz Matsui also had three hits for the Rockies as they sent Beckett (9-1) to his first loss of the season. Jeff Francis (6-5) pitched five shutout innings, giving up seven hits and two walks while striking out two to win for the fifth time in six decisions.

"I can't try to raise my game," Francis said of facing an unbeaten pitcher. "I've just got to try to do what I do and hope, like today, we score a lot of runs. If we can score them early, I can get into a rhythm."

Beckett has won only two of his last five starts, a span that included two weeks on the disabled list because of torn skin on his right middle finger. He gave up season highs of six runs and 10 hits, with a walk and a strikeout in five innings before leaving down, 6-0.

"It was a fun run," Beckett said of his start. "There's no way I take all the credit. If you're not striking everybody out, you need those eight guys behind you."

Atkins was hitting .220 at the end of May, but he has batted .315 in his last 15 games to raise his average to .242.

Boston's loss, coupled with the Yankees' 7-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, trimmed the Red Sox's lead in the AL East to 7 1/2 games, just about half of the 14 1/2 games New York trailed by barely two weeks ago. The Red Sox have lost three of four and scored two or fewer runs in seven of their last nine games.

The Rockies outscored Boston, 20-5, to take two of the three games in the series, winning for the eighth time in 11 games and improving to 33-33 for the season -- the first time they have been at .500 since losing on April 14. They are 6-0-1 in their last seven series, and have won a franchise-record four straight series on the road.

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