Josh Beckett didn't make a very good case to be the AL starter in the All-Star game.
The Red Sox right-hander coughed up a four-run lead, giving up Sammy Sosa's 602nd career homer to break a fifth-inning tie as the Texas Rangers beat Boston 5-4 on Saturday night. The loss prevented Beckett (11-2) from keeping pace with C.C. Sabathia, who won his 12th game for Cleveland.
"When they give me four early runs like that, I've got to go out and shut the door," said Beckett, who gave up five runs and 10 hits in five innings. "I started missing over the plate with some good hitters, and you can't do that."
The All-Star rosters for the July 10 game in San Francisco will be announced on Sunday, and Beckett is expected to be on the AL team. He has one more start before the midsummer break, and it will be his last chance to earn the honor as the league's starter.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game," said Brad Wilkerson, whose two-run double was part of a four-run fourth that tied it. "We don't want to put ourselves in that situation too many times, but we're showing a lot of confidence that we can come from behind and fight to the end."
One day after striking out with the bases loaded in the Rangers' 2-1 loss, Sosa lined a solo shot off the front row of the Monster Seats to break a 4-4 tie.
Ron Mahay (1-0) earned the victory with two innings of scoreless relief after starter Robinson Tejada failed to make it through five innings for the third time in four starts. Mahay struck out two, walked one and allowed one hit.
Joaquin Benoit and Akinori Otsuka each worked a scoreless inning before Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save. Frank Catalanotto had three hits for the Rangers, who had lost five straight against the Red Sox.
"Our bullpen has been outstanding and they came in and did a great job," manager Ron Washington said. "The bullpen came in and did exactly what we need them to do, just get the ball to Aki and Gagne and that's what we did."
Boston scored two in the first and another two in the second, when Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run shot over the Green Monster. It was Youkilis' first homer in a month, a span of 91 at-bats.
Alex Cora doubled and tripled for Boston, which wrapped up its first sub-.500 month (13-14) of the season. Jacoby Ellsbury, the 2005 first-round draft choice who was called up from Triple-A to fill in for an ailing Coco Crisp, legged out an infield single in the third for his first major league hit.
The hustle earned a standing ovation for Ellsbury, who according to the Red Sox is the first American Indian of Navajo descent to play in the majors. But it didn't all go smoothly for the 23-year-old rookie.
Ellsbury nubbed one in front of the plate in the second inning and was tagged out by catcher Gerald Laird without leaving the batter's box. And in the fourth, the center fielder went back on Wilkerson's line drive only to have it go over his head and bounce past him back toward the infield.
Rangers RHP Brandon McCarthy (blister) is scheduled to be activated from the 15-day disabled list and start Monday against the Red Sox. ... Vicente Padilla, who's on the disabled list with a right triceps injury, is expected to resume throwing when the Rangers get home next week. ... Boston RHP Joel Pineiro was placed on the 15-day DL with a sprained right ankle. ... Crisp was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game with a sore thumb. ... Ayla, a monkey trained to assist the disabled in everyday tasks, took part in the first-pitch ceremony. ... Peter Rometti was helped out by the crowd when he struggled with the lyrics to the national anthem. ... Beckett is the 365th different pitcher to give up one of Sosa's homers.