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Beckett has it all working against Yankees

Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett delivers against

Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett delivers against the New York Yankees. (April 10, 2011) Credit: AP

BOSTON -- This was Josh Beckett, circa World Series Game 6, 2003.

Or was it?

Eight seasons ago, Beckett pitched a two-hit shutout against the Yankees in the final game of the World Series as a member of the Marlins.

Sunday night, he two-hit the Yankees for eight innings and struck out 10 as the Red Sox won the rubber match of the three-game series at Fenway Park, 4-0.

But Jorge Posada, who struck out all three times Sunday night, said Beckett is a different pitcher than he was in 2003, when he threw mostly fastballs and curves. Now, Posada said, Beckett has command of five pitches -- and the numbers back him up.

According to pitchfx.com, Beckett threw 29 fastballs, 24 curveballs, 18 changeups, 18 cutters and 13 two-seamers Sunday night. "Today's one of those cases where he was on," Posada said. "He was throwing everything for a strike."

Beckett (1-1, 2.08 ERA) allowed two singles, to Eric Chavez in the third inning and Robinson Cano in the fourth. He retired his final 14 batters.

Beckett hit Russell Martin with a pitch in the third after Chavez's single but got out of the jam when Brett Gardner hit into an inning-ending 4-4-3 double play. "The strikeouts were great," Beckett said. "But I think the biggest pitch I had to make was the double-play ball I got Gardner on."

In the fourth, after the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead, Beckett walked Mark Teixeira ahead of Cano's single with one out. But Beckett struck out Curtis Granderson and got Nick Swisher to ground out.

"We're thrilled with the way he pitched," manager Terry Francona said. "When he's establishing his fastball and then flipping his curve for strikes, it's a nice combination."

And the Red Sox needed it. They went into Sunday night with a 1-7 record. Culprits? Start with the starters, who had a 7.46 ERA.

"It's welcome to see anyone pitch like that," Francona said.

Beckett is trying to rebound from an injury-filled 2010 in which he went 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA. The 30-year-old is signed for four more years at a total of $68 million, and you have to believe the Red Sox are getting a little nervous about that financial commitment. Sunday night probably helped.

Before the game, the Red Sox announced another long-term deal: a four-year, $30.5-million extension with Clay Buchholz, 26, that, with two option years, could keep the righthander in the fold for six more seasons.

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