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Beckett takes aim at perfect 6-0 start

Beckett takes aim at perfect 6-0 start

Nearly five weeks into the season, April is in the books, and Josh Beckett has carved out a little patch of history to call his own.

He won't mind sharing it, though -- of all the Red Sox to dig their cleats into the 95-year-old mound at Fenway Park, only Babe Ruth (1917) and Pedro Martinez (2000) have done what Beckett did last month: pulled off a five-win April.

Can he make it six in a row against the Athletics on Wednesday? Only seven Boston hurlers have begun a season like that, most recently Roger Clemens in 1991.

All this comes after Beckett's difficult debut season in Boston in 2006, in which the now 26-year-old right-hander posted a 5.01 ERA. On Tuesday, manager Terry Francona praised Beckett's command this year of a variety of looks, which can result at any time in "three different pitches for strikes, three different speeds [and] three different planes."

"We're hopefully reaping what this kid can do," he said.

In July 2006, Beckett was pounded in his first start against Oakland, at which point the sheen of a 3-0 start had already started to wear thin. A pair of quality starts against the A's in late July and August improved Beckett's season ERA against the team to 6.23.

Right-hander Chad Gaudin, who has thrived as a rotation replacement for the injured Esteban Loaiza, will take the mound for the A's.

Pitching matchup
OAK: RHP Chad Gaudin (1-1, 2.54 ERA)
Gaudin wasn't supposed to be in the rotation this year, but the 24-year-old former Devil Ray and Blue Jay has done an admirable job stepping in for the injured Loaiza, posting a 2.54 ERA and .196 batting average against in 28 1/3 innings.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (5-0, 2.48 ERA)
Beckett has a deceptively poor ERA of 6.23 in three career starts -- all last season -- against the A's after allowing seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings last July 14. But Beckett is a different pitcher this season. He allowed just seven walks and one home run in his first 32 2/3 innings and showed improvement in virtually every statistical category during his dominant April.

Player to watch
Manny Ramirez has begun to turn his slow start around just in time to face Gaudin, against whom he has two home runs in just six career at-bats.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Spanish)

Up next
• Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, 3-2, 4.36) vs. Mariners (LHP Horacio Ramirez, 2-1, 4.41), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 2-3, 2.59) at Twins (RHP Carlos Silva, 2-1, 3.10), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (RHP Julian Tavarez, 1-2, 7.58) at Twins (LHP Johan Santana, 3-2, 3.60), 7:10 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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