BOSTON Josh Beckett didn't need another shutout to beat the Cleveland Indians. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez took care of that.
Beckett pitched six innings of four-hit ball on Friday night, and Ortiz and Ramirez reached base all 10 times they came to the plate to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Indians 10-3 in the AL championship series opener.
Ramirez went 2-for-2 with an RBI single and three walks two of them with the bases loaded and Ortiz went 2-for-2 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Ramirez also had two crowd-pleasing catches in left field: one going back, one coming in.
"If they don't give you nothing to hit, just take a walk," Ortiz said.
Ortiz and Ramirez have combined to reach base 29 times in 36 postseason plate appearances, and their offense was plenty for Beckett, who pitched shutouts in his two previous playoff starts.
"He was on tonight," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
The Red Sox ace gave up a first-inning homer to Travis Hafner before retiring 10 batters in a row. By the time the Indians got another run, Boston led 8-2, C.C. Sabathia was gone and the Red Sox were on their way to jumping ahead in the best-of-seven series.
"We've done that all year," Lowell said. "We've been able to make pitchers work, but together some professional at-bats."
The 2003 World Series MVP and the only 20-game winner in the majors in the past two seasons, Beckett struck out seven while giving up two runs, a hit batter and a wild pitch, and he threw just 80 pitches. He has a 4-2 career postseason record and 1.87 ERA, and the guy following him to the mound may be even better in October.
Curt Schilling, who also has a World Series MVP award on his resume, faces Fausto Carmona in Game 2 tonight.
Sabathia and Carmona were among those tied for second in the AL with 19 wins in the regular season, and they are expected to be Beckett's toughest competition for the Cy Young Award. But in the playoffs, Sabathia hasn't been able to keep up.
"He just never got in sync. When you're talking about facing a team like Boston, they're going to make you work for it," Wedge said. "He's our No. 1, and one of the best in the game. He's proven to me, he's proven to our team, that he can be a little off and find it. Unfortunately, it just didn't happen tonight."
Eight days after struggling but earning a victory in the first-round opener against the New York Yankees, Sabathia gave up eight runs, seven hits and five walks in 4 1-3 innings. The Cleveland ace gave up three consecutive singles in the first inning, then loaded the bases in the four-run third and again in the three-run fifth.
"A pitcher like C.C., when he gives you something to hit, you want to make sure you hit it, because otherwise you might never get to see that pitch again," Ortiz said. "He was a little wild tonight, and you've got to take advantage of it."