BOSTON — Josh Beckett was just too hittable.
Beckett allowed a season-high 10 hits and four runs over seven innings, surrendering at least one hit to eight different Detroit batters, as the Tigers avoided a four-game sweep with a 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
It was the most hits Beckett (4-5) has permitted since giving up 11 in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 29, 2010.
“I made some pitches when I needed to and I didn’t make some other ones,” he said. “You’re going to have five pitches in a game that you have to make, and I think I made three of them today. The other two it cost me three runs in one inning.”
Boston’s bats didn’t exactly back its starter, either.
Mike Aviles’ single to lead off the fourth was the last hit by the Red Sox, and only Nick Punto reached after that, walking in the seventh.
“A real competitive, battling outing. He gave us a chance to win the game. I don’t know that that was his best stuff,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said of Beckett. “I thought we get a few runs right there in the seventh, the way we’re swinging the bats, and he’d leave with a win and we’d have a good flight to Toronto.”
Beckett walked one and struck out one, fanning Jhonny Peralta with one out in the sixth to extend his streak of striking out at least one batter to 289 games, the second longest stretch to begin a career and longest active streak in the majors.
Only Dwight Gooden had a longer run to start his career, going 349 games with at least one strikeout.
It was still much better than his first outing against Detroit this season.
The Tigers battered Beckett on April 7 at Detroit, hitting five home runs – two each by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder – against the right-hander in a 10-0 win.
He has been solid lately, though, stringing together seven quality starts in his last eight outings, including his last three in which he allowed three runs over 21 2/3 innings.
That changed in a hurry Thursday.
The Tigers erased an early 2-0 deficit with a three-run third, including RBI singles from Quintin Berry and Fielder.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied it with a two-out RBI single in bottom half, but the Tigers grabbed the lead for good when Cabrera singled in Berry in the fifth.
Max Scherzer (5-3) retired nine consecutive batters before Punto led off the seventh with a walk, forcing the right-hander from the game. He allowed three runs and seven hits in his third consecutive victory, closing out a strong May.
“We just let him off the hook,” Valentine said. “Heck, we had his pitch count up in the 80s after four innings. We were having good at bats, just we kind of let it slip away.”
Delmon Young hit a solo drive in the eighth to make it 5-3, then added a run-scoring single in the ninth.
Saltalamacchia hit his 10th homer for Boston, which was seeking its first four-game sweep against the Tigers since 2004.
The Red Sox opened May with eight losses in nine games to drop to 12-19 on the year, but they closed the month on a 14-6 run to pull within three games of the division lead.
Young and Berry each had three hits for Detroit, which finished with 14 overall. Berry also scored two runs and stole two bases.
Detroit ended a brutal stretch of playing 19 of 24 games on the road, going 10-14 overall while dropping into third place.
Saltalamacchia connected in the second inning, and Scott Podsednik doubled in Ryan Sweeney to make it 2-0.
Fielder also tripled in Cabrera in the ninth.
The Tigers threatened to score in the second inning after Young singled and Alex Avila followed with a double, but Sweeney caught Peralta’s fly ball to right and doubled up Young trying to score from third.
“I think I had the best seat in the house, backing up home,” Beckett said. “You can kind of see the ball kind of tailing in there. It was really nice.”
NOTES: C Avila left in the third for precautionary reasons after getting hit in the helmet with a foul ball but he had no symptoms of a concussion. . Tigers first base coach Tom Brookens was ejected in the first inning by first base umpire Jeff Nelson for arguing a questionable out call of a Brennan Boesch groundout. Saltalamacchia’s sixth home run in his last 15 games was his most ever in the same month. . Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez had his 10-game hitting streak snapped. … Boston lost to Detroit for the first time in eight games.