BOSTON (AP) - Garrett Atkins went 3-for-5 with a grand slam and Josh Beckett lost for the first time this season as the Colorado Rockies beat the Boston Red Sox 7-1 on Thursday night.
Despite bringing an undefeated record into the game, Beckett (9-1) has won just two of his last five starts, a span that included two weeks on the disabled list with torn skin on his right middle finger. He allowed six runs and 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout in five innings and left trailing 6-0.
Kaz Matsui added three hits for the Rockies, who won for the eighth time in 11 games and improved to 33-33 for the season -- the first time they'd 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.
Jeff Francis (6-5) pitched five shutout innings, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out two to win for the fifth time in six decisions. He gave up singles to Jason Varitek and Coco Crisp to start the sixth, but Jorge Julio came on and retired the next three batters.
Boston's loss, coupled with the Yankees' 7-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, trimmed the Red Sox lead in the AL East to 71/2 games, just about half of the 141/2 games New York trailed by just 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 the Red Sox 20-5 in winning two out of three in Boston.
Matsui doubled and scored on Todd Helton's single in the first, then led off the third with a single. Matt Holliday lined one into the left-center gap, where Crisp made a nice slide to keep it from going to the wall. But he popped up and inexplicably threw the ball toward left-fielder Manny Ramirez, who was maybe a dozen yards closer to the infield.
Ramirez leaped but couldn't get to the ball, and it rolled around in the outfield. With nobody out, Matsui was held at third by substitute third-base coach Glenallen Hill, but it didn't matter when Helton walked to load the bases and Atkins cleared them with a shot into the Monster Seats.
Notes: 3B coach Mike Gallego missed the game to attend the high school graduation of his twin sons. Hill moved from first to third and bench coach Jamie Quirk worked at first. ... Ramirez, who usually wears his pant legs down to his shoes, showed a lot of the red sock. ... J.D. Drew was bumped from fifth to leadoff in the hopes of sparking some offense. He went 0-for-5 and did not reach base. ... Umpire Bruce Froemming, who announced plans to retire after a career of more than 5,000 major league games, worked second base. Froemming will work home plate at next month's All-Star game. ... The Red Sox signed 10 picks from last week's draft: RHP Adam Mills, SS Kenneth Roque, C Daniel Miliano, LHP William Latimer, 3B Deshaun Brooks, C Will Vazquez, LHP Daniel Buller, RHP Anthony Bajoczky, SS Emmanuel Solano and C Peter Gilardo.
(Copyright 2007. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)