Beleaguered Josh Beckett combines on shutout of Mariners

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Josh Beckett’s critics will have to stand down for a few days: the occasional golfer and devourer of fried chicken blanked the Mariners for seven innings and struck out nine in Boston’s 5-0 victory Tuesday.

It was actually Beckett’s fifth quality start in seven tries this season. His other two outings were pretty spectacularly bad (he gave up five homers to the Tigers in his season debut and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Indians last week), but he’s been good more often than not despite dealing with diminished velocity.

Beckett allowed just four hits in this one, though the Mariners did make a couple of bids for homers. Justin Smoak hit a drive over the wall in right in the second inning that appeared to be foul, though replay was inconclusive. The umpires ruled it foul and then went to the replay before standing by the call. In the sixth, Kyle Seager hit a ball to deep right with two men on. It would have been a homer in a few parks, but in Fenway, it was just a long out.

Beckett is now 3-4 with a 4.97 ERA this season. The Red Sox have won five in a row to improve to 17-19.