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Beckett strikes out 10 as Red Sox outplays Rays

A "PHENOMENAL" Josh Beckett struck out 10 over seven innings as the Boston Red Sox opened their season with a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

The right-hander allowed only two hits and one run while walking three to help Boston claim the delayed opener.

Heavy rains washed out Monday's scheduled start to the season.

"He was phenomenal," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters.

"He had that fastball he was throwing ... He had the breaking ball he was throwing. Except for the third inning, when he lost his breaking ball and they were able to sit on a couple of fastballs, he was good all day."

Beckett, who went 12-10 last year after a 20-7 record in 2007, said a first-inning solo home run by Boston's Dustin Pedroia helped him settle down.

"I had a lot of adrenaline," Beckett said, "and if anything it (the home run) kind of let me calm down a little bit."

A three-run third inning highlighted the win by the Red Sox, who lost to the Rays in the 2008 American League championship series. Boston also got a solo homer from Jason Varitek in the sixth inning.

Tampa Bay scored on a sacrifice fly in the third and Evan Longoria's two-run single in the eighth.

Rays starter James Shields, who gave up five runs and nine hits in five-plus innings, took the loss for the defending American League champions.

Boston took the lead on J.D. Drew's third-inning ground out that broke a 1-1 tie. A run-scoring single by Jason Bay and Mike Lowell's RBI double made it 4-1.

Hideki Okajima replaced Beckett in the eighth inning and the Rays went on to score two runs to pull within 5-3.

Okajima hit Jason Bartlett and walked Akinori Iwamura before striking out Carl Crawford and yielding the mound to Justin Masterson.

Tampa Bay quickly took advantage of the change with Longoria, the first batter Masterson faced, singling to center to score Bartlett and Iwamura.

That would be the Rays' last runs as Boston turned to standout closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. He retired Tampa Bay in order, striking out the last two batters he faced.

Elsewhere in the American league, it was: White Sox 4, Royals 2; Blue Jays 5, Tigers 4; Twins 6, Mariners 5; and Athletics 6, Angels 4.

In the National League, Jair Jurrjens and four relievers combined on a six-hitter, and Kelly Johnson and Chipper Jones hit solo homers as the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0.

The defending World Series champions are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth straight year. They'll receive their rings before trying to avoid a three-game sweep.

Also, it was: Giants 10, Brewers 6; Marlins 8, Nationals 3; Astros 3, Cubs 2; Cardinals 9, Pirates 3; Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 0; and Padres 4, Dodgers 2.


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