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Hill of beans

Beckett (9 walks), Sox can't stop slide

The expiration date on the bloody sock has long since passed. Curt Schilling will be on his own tonight at Fenway Park when he tries to restore some dignity to a lost weekend for the Red Sox, who have left their glassy-eyed followers to wonder if that's a grave poster-boy-turned-pariah Johnny Damon has been dancing upon the last two days.

The Yankees made it three straight games of double-digit scoring -- and winning -- in a 13-5 beating of Josh Beckett and the Sox so one-sided that Sal Fasano, a 35-year-old catcher and cum laude graduate of the Doug Mirabelli School of Base Running, was employed as a pinch runner for the first time in his career.

Damon had three more hits, all doubles, giving him nine hits for the series, Bernie Williams and Robinson Cano hit home runs, and the Yankees drew 13 walks and batted around for the fifth time since this massacre-in-the-making commenced.

``Never happened before, to get beat up this bad," said Sox DH David Ortiz, who could not have known how true his words were, the Sox having allowed 12 or more runs in three straight games for the first time in franchise history. ``Doesn't matter where we were, we're going in the wrong direction.

``How many guys did we walk today? Thirteen walks, that's a record, ain't it?"

No, but the 28 walks issued in three games by Sox pitchers is scandalous.

``When you're facing an offensive team like that," Ortiz said, ``and you're walking guys, you know one of those guys is going to hurt you later on.

``Like I said, we have to try something different."

The Sox, now a season-high 4 1/2 games behind the Bombers in the AL East, can only hope they will get a better return tonight from Schilling than they received yesterday for entrusting their fortunes to Beckett, who since coming to Boston has cashed in on his reputation as a big-game pitcher by signing a new $30 million deal but so far has failed miserably to live up to it.

Beckett, who was supposed to revive memories of the Rocket (Clemens), instead summoned the ghost of Rogelio (Moret) by walking nine in 5 2/3 torturous innings in which he yielded nine runs, five of which came in a sixth inning in which he issued three free passes. Moret was the last Sox pitcher to walk nine in a start (Aug. 22, 1975) and the skinny lefthander did so in a complete-game, four-hit 2-1 win over the White Sox.

``It's unacceptable, it's brutal," said Beckett, who is 1-2 with a 7.32 ERA in six starts since he celebrated the signing of his new deal by throwing eight shutout innings at the Royals.

Beckett's last walk, to Alex Rodriguez on four pitches, forced in the run that broke a 5-all tie, and finally exhausted the patience of Terry Francona. The Sox manager had gambled that Beckett, who'd already thrown 117 pitches but was in a tie game because Manny Ramírez had hit a three-run home run off Randy Johnson in the fourth and Ortiz an inning later had come through with a sacrifice fly, could get one more out.

``Tito came out there and had faith in me," Beckett said of the visit to the mound by the manager before A-Rod's at-bat, ``and I blew that up."

Beckett, who blamed his problems in part on ``stubborn stupidness," wasn't the only one with a detonator in his hands. Reliever Manny Delcarmen replaced him, promptly walked Cano on four pitches, then gave up a Jorge Posada line drive over the head of Coco Crisp's stand-in, center fielder Gabe Kapler, a ball Kapler said he should have caught but instead watched as it hit the top of the padding and bounced away for a triple.

Three runs scored, the Yankees led, 10-5, and Delcarmen, who has now allowed a eye-popping 16 of 22 inherited runners to score, has some people wondering whether the native of Hyde Park has an uncle named Rudy. (That's Rudy, as in Seanez, who was designated for assignment yesterday after a season in which he allowed 11 of 18 inherited runners to score.)

Kapler, playing because Francona said he didn't want to burn out Crisp after Friday's exhausting doubleheader, tried to absolve Delcarmen of some of the damage.

``If I go straight to the ball," he said, ``I have a chance to catch it."

The Sox, who had scored in each of the first five innings Friday night and still lost -- something they hadn't done in 78 years -- had just one hit in the last four innings against Johnson and two relievers, their supply of comebacks temporarily tapped out.

``I don't think it's too buoyant," Francona said of the prevailing atmosphere in a Sox clubhouse devoid of most of yesterday's participants when the media was permitted entry.

``We have to try to find a way to regroup. We've dug ourselves a pretty good hole."

And the guy happily lending a shovel has been Damon, who so far has two home runs, three doubles, a triple, five runs, and a terrific catch on his Fenway dance card this weekend.

``That's him," Ortiz said. ``That's all he did when he was here, kick [butt]. That's his game. You know Johnny. He knows what he's doing out there."

What are the Sox to do?

``You can be discouraged for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then you've got to keep it in perspective," Mark Loretta said. ``We've got two games left against the Yankees, we got Schilling going tomorrow, we've got 40 games left in the season.

``This is kind of a down cycle we're in right now, but it's going to come back around."

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