Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine reacts in the dugout during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Wednesday, July 25, 2012, in Arlington, Texas.

All that separated Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox from possibly winning last night was one wild pitch. But ultimately in the end, it was what cost the Red Sox in a 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

Lately, the first inning has been the cause of concern for Beckett. That certainly wasn’t the case last night as he changed his pregame routine. We don’t know the exact changes but he did warmup underneath the stadium due to the sweltering Texas heat. Whatever he did worked.

Instead, it was the fourth inning that cost him as he gave up three runs that gave the Rangers the lead. Fortunately for him, Dustin Pedroia tied the game up with a solo home in the 6th.

But the one pitch is will what haunt the night for Beckett and the Red Sox.

With one out in the 7th, Beckett hit Elvis Andrus with a pitch that got away from him. He then struck out the struggling Josh Hamilton but old friend Adrian Beltre singled Andrus over to third on a hit and run. He then threw a changeup that was down and away. He attempted it again but overcorrected too much and the pitch went to the back stop allowing Andrus to score and give the Rangers the lead for good.

Nelson Cruz greeted Matt Albers‘ second pitch of the 8th by blasting it out of the park to secure the win for the Rangers.

While it’s disconcerting Beckett gave up a two-run lead, his overall effort on the bump was much better. But the one mistake ultimately cost him.

Look, the Red Sox need Beckett to be, well the old Josh Beckett of old. We all know he’s much better than his 5-9 record. Sure things aren’t going his way right now but he has the mental fortitude to turn things around. It’s up to him to continue to work between starts to correct those mistakes.

While the Red Sox did lose two-of-three in Texas, it was a nice homecoming for Will Middlebrooks.

He added two more hits yesterday, including a solo home run that gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead at the time. He finished the series in Texas going 6-for-12 and did so in front of hundreds of family and friends. He’s definitely been making the right adjustments as the league continues to adjust to him.

Of course the loss throws back out the same questions that were asked yesterday. Are the Red Sox contenders or pretenders?

With the trade deadline just five days away, it’s still hard to answer that. But after a three-game set with the New York Yankees over the weekend, we should know that answer. Of course there’s also the possibility it’s already been decided.

We’ll just have to sit back and see.

The Red Sox are off today as they travel back east. We’ll be back in a bit with the MLB on FOX breakdown as well as the pitching matchups for the series with the Yanks. So for now, let’s take a look at the overnight links from the media.

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Red Sox feel the squeeze [boston globe]

A catch with two pitchers [boston globe]

It’s a big step for Bailey as he faces hitters [boston globe]

Wild pitch by Josh Beckett leads Rangers to win [boston herald]

Swing shift for Jon Lester [boston herald]

Andrew Bailey slowly closes in on return [boston herald]

Josh Beckett shows his class [boston herald]

Ex-cop: Swift justice needed in police case [boston herald]

Beckett self-destructs, Red Sox fall to Rangers, 5-3 [csn new england]

Middlebrooks: ‘Fun to play in front of all my friends and family’ [csn new england]

Beckett not enough in loss to Rangers [csn new england]

When losing is winning [csn new england]

Mullen on the Minors: LHP Hernandez gets call to PawSox [csn new england]

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Red Sox 3 [espn boston]

Middlebrooks performs for hometown fans [espn boston]

Valentine laments another Beckett loss [espn boston]

Boston Red Sox’s Jon Lester has no quick fixes for slump [espn boston]

Closing Time: Wild pitch does in Josh Beckett, Red Sox as Rangers take series [full count]

Nuggetpalooza: Red Sox futility in nugget form [full count]

Will Middlebrooks Homers in His Return to Texas, Says Red Sox are ‘Doing All the Right Things’ (Video) []

Josh Beckett One Pitch Away From Successful Outing, Left to Wonder ‘What If’ []

Ichiro Suzuki Excited for Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry, Still Unsure What to Expect []

Bradley learned from first — and only — slump of 2012 [projo sox blog]

Terrific series in front of family and friends for Will Middlebrooks [projo sox blog]

Bailey throws BP, nearing rehab assignment []

Lester, Dice-K have encouraging sessions []

Crawford not likely to DH for Red Sox []

Prospect reaches in 16 straight plate appearances []

Sox in a box: Slipping Red Sox in a bind as trade deadline nears [alex speier –]

For more slices of Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSN New EnglandESPN Boston, NESN, Providence Journal, and WEEI websites.

And if you must check out the enemy news, head over to the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram websites.

Follow Ian on Twitter @soxanddawgs. And be sure to like us on Facebook as well.

photo credit: ap photo