Nothing fishy about this streak

Nothing fishy about this streak

BOSTON -- They took off their road grays, threw on their home whites and not a whole lot else changed. And considering the way they played in their season-opening trip through Texas and Baltimore, status quo was just what the Red Sox were looking for in their Fenway opener on Tuesday afternoon against the Blue Jays.

For the sixth time in seven games, the Sox got a strong effort from their starting pitcher. This time, it was Josh Beckett, who shook off a shaky opening (36 pitches in the first) and fired seven innings of three-hit, one-run baseball, leading Boston to a 5-3 victory over the Jays before 35,491, the largest crowd to witness a Fenway Park opener.

"I was soaking it all up in the ninth inning, every pitch, every out, just looking around," said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who led off in place of the injured Coco Crisp. "It felt like the World Series. It was unbelievable. Just a pure adrenaline rush and pure excitement."

If anyone was caught up in it, it was Beckett. Making his first start in front of his new fans, Beckett was fired up, and perhaps that got best of him in that laborious first inning.

Beckett walked three batters in the inning, the latter of which forced in a run. Then, Beckett threw a borderline 3-1 pitch to Shea Hillenbrand. Perhaps in a case of wishful thinking, Hillenbrand started trotting to first base, only to have to go back when home plate umpire Jerry Layne called it a strike. Beckett wasn't in a good mood anyway, but when Hillenbrand made an assumption, he started boiling.

Three pitches later, Beckett induced the former Boston infielder into a 6-4-3 double play. Inning over. Beckett stomped off the mound, screaming at himself.

Yes, the Red Sox have acquired a fiery competitor in addition to a top-flight pitcher.

"I was mad at myself, and I was a little mad that [Hillenbrand] thought that was ball four, the 3-1 pitch," Beckett said. "I'm kind of about playing the game right. I didn't really appreciate [it] that much and I was also mad at myself and probably let my emotions get the best of me. I get mad at myself after every inning. It's just part of me.

"Some of the guys probably get frustrated with me because I'll have a 1-2-3 inning and two of them will be lineouts and I'm [perturbed]. It's a tough thing probably for them to deal with, but I just expect a lot out of myself and sometimes I'm my own worst enemy."

For the rest of the day, even Beckett couldn't be down on himself. He mowed right through the Blue Jays, leaving after 105 pitches and lifting his team to its fifth consecutive victory.

The offense got the job done when needed as Mike Lowell -- acquired along with Beckett from the Marlins -- went 4-for-4 with three doubles in his home debut with the Red Sox. Youkilis went 2-for-4 with a double and Adam Stern, stepping in for Crisp in center, hammered a two-run double.

And David Ortiz celebrated his contract extension by belting a solo homer into the lower box seats in right field.

Beckett (2-0, 1.29 ERA) made it all stand up. Sometimes it is more satisfying for a pitcher to get the win on a day where nothing comes easy.

"That's what [Curt] Schilling was saying," said Beckett. "That's what good pitchers do. They get through seven innings. I was lucky that I made some pitches when I needed to and got great defense."

Keith Foulke worked the eighth, surrendering a two-run homer to Frank Catalanotto that was deflected over the bullpen wall by the glove right fielder Wily Mo Pena.

"I just have to get comfortable and keep working a lot out there," said Pena. "That's why I've been talking with Trot Nixon and all those guys about how to play the outfield."

Jonathan Papelbon then continued his early-season dominance, retiring all three batters he faced for his fourth save in as many opportunities. How good has Papelbon been? In five outings, he's allowed a grand total of two baserunners.

"He's dong an excellent job," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "Do I expect him to be perfect all year? No. but he's doing an excellent job."

The Red Sox have bolted out of the gate, winning six of their first seven games for the first time since 1999.

"It's [only] been one week, but we're trying to play winning baseball," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That's all you ever ask. We're doing some little things, we're doing some big things. I think the consistent effort has been there every day, that's great, because we think we have a good team."

The Red Sox got all of the offense they would need in a four-run second inning against Blue Jays starter Josh Towers. It started with a walk to Nixon, who would leave the game two innings later with a mild strain in his left groin. Varitek singled to center and then Lowell tied it up with an RBI double to left-center.

Stern smoked an opposite-field two-run double to left to put Boston ahead for good. Youkilis ripped a double to left to score Stern, who had stolen third base.

All in all, the packed house at Fenway saw a good show.

Fun to be back at Fenway?

"It's really exciting," Varitek said. "It gives all the new people a reason to know why we like playing at home."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.