MIAMI — Facing his former team for the first time, Josh Beckett started slowly and paid dearly.
Four of the first eight Miami Marlins to bat scored Monday night, and that was all they needed to beat Beckett and the Boston Red Sox, 4-1.
Beckett (4-7) was pitching in South Florida for the first time since 2003, when he led the Marlins to the World Series title. After he fell behind 4-0, he retired 14 batters in a row, but the Red Sox couldn’t muster a comeback.
“He did a great job of keeping us in the game,” Boston’s Dustin Pedroia said. “We couldn’t find a way to get to their guy.”
Josh Johnson outpitched Beckett, allowing one run in seven innings.
“He’s pretty tough,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “He had that 95 mph fastball going. It was elevating against some of our guys. He did a good job. Every fire he put out.”
Desperate for a turnaround, the Marlins opened their retractable roof for the first time in nearly two months. The conditions may have contributed to Beckett’s poor start, Valentine said.
“There was a wind out there, and he figured out the wind a little late, I guess,” Valentine said. “But his two-seamer was just dynamite. It was moving – just about unhittable.”
Beckett didn’t talk to reporters after the game.
The Red Sox, last in the AL East, lost for the seventh time in eight games. A recent run of fine pitching against the Sox has contributed to their slump, Valentine said.
“I don’t think they’re pressing,” he said. “They’re trying very hard against real good pitchers.”
Rookie Donovan Solano drove in two runs for the Marlins, who improved to 1-6 on their homestand.
To change their luck, the Marlins opened the retractable roof on their new ballpark for the first time since April 18. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest came up with the idea.
“He said, `We can’t trade for 25 guys, so let’s open the roof,”‘ Marlins president David Samson said. “This is our version of a slump buster.”
On an unusually mild June evening, with low humidity and a temperature of 79 at game time, the Marlins played better from the start. They scored three times in the first inning to lead for only the second time since the homestand began.
Solano, in the lineup because manager Ozzie Guillen gave second baseman Omar Infante the night off, had a hit and drove in two runs. He’s batting .455. Gaby Sanchez singled for his second RBI in as many games since being recalled from Triple-A. The Marlins went 2 for 3 with runners in scoring position after going 5 for 50 in those situations previously during the homestand.
Johnson (4-4) needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning. After the first two batters reached he settled down, retiring 11 in a row during one stretch.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” said Boston’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went 0 for 4. “We know we can put some runs on the board. It seems like right now guys are pitching us really well, and we’re not hitting their mistakes.”
Scott Podsednik singled in the Boston sixth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez. But five of the final nine Red Sox batters struck out.
Heath Bell completed a five-hitter by striking out the side in the ninth for his 13th save in 17 chances.
Reyes led off the first with a triple and scored on Solano’s sacrifice fly. Giancarlo Stanton singled and scored from first when Logan Morrison doubled and right fielder Gonzalez bobbled the ball for an error. Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.
Solano had a two-out RBI single in the second inning off Beckett, who fell to 0-3 in his past four starts.
NOTES: Red Sox OF Daniel Nava (sore left hand) again sat out. … Boston OF Cody Ross, sidelined since May 18 with a broken bone in his left foot, is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment Thursday with Triple-A Pawtucket. … Marlins LHP Mark Buehrle, scheduled to start Tuesday, has a chance to tie Kenny Rogers’ record of 11 consecutive wins in interleague games. … The video scoreboard showed highlights of the Heat’s victory over the Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference finals, which drew boos from Red Sox fans in the crowd.