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MATSUZAKA BEAT UP EARLY

Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Game 1 last week before Carl Crawford singled. He eventually allowed four hits but still earned the 2-0 win.

Akinori Iwamura broke up the no-hitter before it even began Thursday, singling as the first batter of the game. B.J. Upton ruined the shutout one batter later with a homer to left for a 2-0 lead. Matsuzaka allowed three runs in the third - a two-run homer by Carlos Pena and a solo shot by Evan Longoria. He left in the fifth, having given up five runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

BLEAK REPORT: Red Sox manager Terry Francona called a Thursday report on SI.com that RHP Josh Beckett had torn a muscle in his right side during his final start of the regular season "not true." Beckett, who went 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in the 2007 postseason, is 0-0 with an 11.57 ERA and 18 hits allowed in 91/3 innings this year. He had reportedly strained the muscle in a bullpen session and received an anti-inflammatory shot.

"I don't know how that came about. That's another one that's hard to answer because it didn't happen," Francona said.

Beckett allowed eight runs on nine hits in a 9-8 Rays win in Game 2.

CHANGED: Francona inserted OF Coco Crisp in the leadoff spot and kept the struggling Jacoby Ellsbury on the bench for the second straight game. Ellsbury entered play 0-for-14 in the ALCS and a .000 on-base percentage. Not exactly leadoff material. Crisp entered play batting .375 and had reached base in half of his 10 plate appearances.

"I wanted to keep Dustin (Pedroia), David (Ortiz), (Kevin Youkilis) and (Jason) Bay two through five," Francona said. "Again, we understand that making (Rays starter Scott) Kazmir work is very, very important. When we've had success against him, for the most part we've gotten him out of games and made him work, and we are very aware of that."

NO BLOODY SOCK: Injured Red Sox P Curt Schilling threw out the ceremonial first pitch (bouncing the ball to the plate). Schilling's blood-tinged sock - a result of a surgical procedure to repair an ankle tendon - was a rallying point for Boston in its 2004 World Series title run.

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