BOSTON &

Josh Beckett was forced to come out of the game. Jeremy Guthrie probably should have stayed in.




Guthrie took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning and came within two outs of his first complete game before Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo pulled him, only to watch the Boston Red Sox score six runs and beat the Orioles 6-5 on Sunday.




"At one point, it seems like we had no chance," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who doubled in Boston's first run. "In the ninth, 5-0, fly ball, catcher misses it, and that was the difference in the game. Everybody started going crazy."




Guthrie, a former Ashland High School standout, was cruising, having retired eight straight, when catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped Coco Crisp's popup near the third-base line for an error. Boston then got four hits and three walks against Danys Baez and Chris Ray (3-3).




J.C. Romero (1-0) struck out two in 1&

65279;1/3 scoreless innings for the win.




Guthrie, making his third start of the season and the fourth of his career, was looking for his second consecutive win since being promoted from the bullpen. For 8&

65279;1/3 innings, he was the unlikely star.




"Well, this was only his second start," Perlozzo said. "He wanted to stay in, but that was definitely my decision. My decision. We didn't make a couple of plays that we should have. Game should have been over."




Ray gave up three runs &

two earned &

on three hits and two walks while getting just one out in his third blown save of the season. He was also charged with an error for dropping the toss from first baseman Kevin Millar on the final play of the game, allowing Jason Varitek and Eric Hinske to scamper home on what could have been Julio Lugo's game-ending grounder.




"That's a game we should have won, period," Millar said. "That game was in our hands. I really feel terrible for Guthrie."




The rally saved Beckett from his first loss of the year. But he left after four innings with a torn flap of skin on his right middle finger, failing to become the first eight-game winner in the major leagues and tie the franchise record &

held by Babe Ruth and two others &

for wins to start a season.




"My skin broke and it just ripped more and more each pitch," Beckett said. "Hopefully, I can make my next start. But that is a big 'hopefully.'"




Guthrie had faced two more than the minimum when Crisp lofted a popup in front of the plate near the third-base line; with the wind playing havoc with the ball, Hernandez let it bounce off his glove.




Baez came in and Ortiz doubled off the Green Monster in deep left-center to make it 5-1. Wily Mo Pena singled to left, then Ray came in and walked J.D. Drew to load the bases before hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch to bring in another run.




Varitek hit a line-drive double to right to score two, taking second when Nick Markakis bobbled the ball. Hinske was walked intentionally to reload the bases, a plan that seemed to be working when Alex Cora hit a high chopper to second baseman Brian Roberts, who threw home for the second out.




Lugo then bounced a grounder far to the right of first baseman Millar, who tossed it to Ray as he ran to cover first. The ball went off the pitcher's glove and Hinske took off for home, scoring behind Varitek for the game-winner.