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Josh Beckett unable to duplicate gem in Dodgers' 2-1 loss to Pirates

Los Angeles DodgersSportsBaseballJosh BeckettDrew ButeraBoston Red SoxPittsburgh Pirates
Dodgers' Josh Beckett gives up two runs and five hits in loss
Josh Beckett lasts five innings in Dodgers' 2-1 loss Pittsburgh
Josh Beckett, despite loss to Pirates, is showing his worth as a veteran pitcher for the Dodgers

The once-in-a-lifetime performance remained a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Five days removed from the first no-hitter of his career, Josh Beckett didn't throw a second.

Beckett looked considerably more human in the 2-1 defeat to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night than he did in Philadelphia the last time he scaled a mound.

He gave up a run-scoring single to Neil Walker in the third inning. He served up a towering solo home run to Ike Davis in the fourth.

With the no-hitter requiring a career-high 128 pitches, Beckett was limited to five innings on this night at Dodger Stadium. He was charged with two runs and five hits. He walked one and struck out five.

Beckett departed the game with the Dodgers trailing, 2-0 — in other words, he gave them a chance to win.

Starts like this have become routine for Beckett, obscuring that what he's doing this season is something of a minor miracle.

This was supposed to be the closing act of Beckett's career. Instead, it's turned into a revival that figures to land the three-time All-Star another eight-figure deal in free agency this winter.

Beckett was considered to be close to finished when he was acquired by the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox in 2012. The Red Sox wanted to dump his hefty contract. The Dodgers agreed to it because they wanted Adrian Gonzalez.

The outlook turned bleaker last season, when nerve problems forced Beckett to undergo a surgical procedure to remove a rib.

The Dodgers didn't know what they would get out of Beckett this year in the final year of his four-year, $68-million contract.

Turns out Beckett is still worth the $15.75 million the Dodgers are paying him this season.

He no longer throws 98 mph, but he's 3-2 with a 2.54 earned-run average in 10 starts.

"He's mixing in all his off-speed pitches at any time and makes the hitters not know what's happening," Gonzalez said.

That doesn't mean Beckett has transformed into a soft tosser.

"Everybody talks about how he's had to reinvent himself because he's lost some of his stuff and he definitely has," Clayton Kershaw said. "He's not throwing 98 any more. But he's throwing 94. He's throwing plenty hard."

Still, Beckett has made the adjustments necessary to extend his career.

"We feel like he could keep pitching if he wanted to because of what he's doing, because the change of speeds, the feel he has for the two [seamer], excellent breaking balls," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. "Changeup's really good too. He's got enough fastball that if he's throwing enough breaking balls, the fastball still can get on you."

Beckett will be part of an upcoming free-agent class that is expected to be loaded with pitching. Max Scherzer, James Shields and Ervin Santana will be free agents this winter. Beckett, 34, could offer teams a less-expensive alternative.

Francisco Liriano also figures to be on the market.

Liriano pitched Friday against Beckett and limited the Dodgers to five hits over 52/3 scoreless innings.

Liriano pitched a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins in 2011. His catcher that day was Drew Butera, who caught Beckett's no-hitter Sunday. Butera caught Beckett again Friday.

Butera noted the striking differences between Beckett and Liriano on the days they made history. Beckett openly talked about his no-hitter while it was in progress.

"Liriano, he was dead silent," Butera said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles DodgersSportsBaseballJosh BeckettDrew ButeraBoston Red SoxPittsburgh Pirates
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