(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
BOSTON — Now is a good time for Garrett Atkins and the Rockies to have a new beginning.
Atkins proved that he arrived for 2007 with a grand slam, a single and a double, as the Rockies pulled to .500 by beating previously undefeated pitcher Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, 7-1, at Fenway Park on Thursday night before a sellout crowd of 36,939.
The Rockies accomplished their second consecutive winning road trip, taking two out of three from the Orioles and the American League East-leading Sox. On Friday, they’ll meet the Devil Rays to open a three-game series and six-game homestand, which includes the Yankees arriving on Tuesday.
The Rockies, at the break-even point for the first time since they reached 5-5 on April 13, have become a force in Interleague Play with a 15-6 record starting since last season.
Atkins, who improved his season average to .242 after hitting.329 with 29 home runs last year, has surged in June, batting .342 (13-for-38) with two home runs, five doubles and nine RBIs in 11 games. His slam over the Green Monster in left, which gave the Rockies a 5-0 lead in the third inning against Beckett (9-1), was his fifth homer of the season.
Matt Holliday followed in the fourth with his team-leading 12th homer for a 6-0 lead. Beckett gave up 10 hits and six runs in five innings. The Rockies, who added a run against Mike Timlin in the eighth inning, won the last two games of the series against highly regarded pitchers Curt Schilling and Beckett.
Jeff Francis (6-5) needed plenty of help to improve to win for the fifth time in six decisions. He struck out six in five shutout innings, but he gave up seven hits and walked two, only to force the Sox to leave all nine men on base.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s diving catch of J.D. Drew’s liner with the bases loaded and one out in the third helped Francis the most.
Relievers Jorge Julio, Tom Martin, LaTroy Hawkins, Manny Corpas and Brian Fuentes held the Sox to just one run in the final four innings.