Josh Beckett has his old stuff back and the Boston Red Sox could not be happier.
was a real gem.
After that, Beckett was truly unhittable, putting away the next 19 batters in order to close out the game.
Going just 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA in 2010, Boston fans were worried that their ace had lost his good stuff, but the 2003 World Series MVP (then with Florida) has silenced his critics and assuaged the doubters by going 6-2 this season with a 1.86 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.
Facing one over the minimum, Beckett didn't issue any walks while striking out six, needing only 96 pitches for the 3-0 win, his first complete game shutout of 2011.
Locked into a pitcher's duel with the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson, Beckett got all the runs he would need on Kevin Youkilis' 7th-inning, three-run homer.
Boston maintained its 1 1/2 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. The Rays dropped 4 1/2 games off the pace.
Hernandez, always an inning-eater, recorded the 50th complete game and 9th shutout of his career in Washington's 10-0 whitewash.
Hernandez threw 105 pitches (71 strikes) without walking a batter while fanning six. Michael Morse blasted a pair of homers in support - a solo shot in the 2nd and a two-run job in the 7th - while also singling and scoring in the 4th, going 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI.
The win, combined with Philadelphia's twin killing of the collapsing Marlins, losers of 14 of their last 15, got the Nationals into a tie for last place in the NL East, rather than holding it on their own. At 32-36, the Nationals are actually not that bad a team.
For the Cardinals, the setback left them trailing the Brewers by one game in the wide-open Central division, with Cincinnati closing in, just 2 1/2 off the pace.
NOTES: The Phillies have opened up a commanding five-game lead on the Braves in the NL East after dumping the marlins twice on Wednesday, 8-1 and 5-4, in 10 innings. In the NL West, the Giants enhanced their lead with a 5-2 win over second place Arizona, now 2 1/2 back.
The Tigers and Indians are back into a tie in the AL Central. Cleveland recovered from Justin Verlander's 4-0 shutout Tuesday to take a 6-4 decision on Wednesday. The two combatants will settle their differences Thursday afternoon in the rubber game of their three-game series.
Texas lost their 4th straight, dropping a 12-4 decision in New York to the Yankees. Seattle continue pursuit, one game back. In the Texas game, Mark Teixeira connected for two-run homers from both sides of the plate, the 11th time he's he's gone long ball as both a lefty and righty in the same game. That tied him with Eddie Murray and Chili Davis as leaders of that particular feat.