CLEVELAND (AP) -First, Josh Beckett's ex-girlfriend showed up. Sure enough, the Boston ace got into an argument - with Kenny Lofton.
Beckett took exception to Lofton's antics at the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 5 of the AL championship series Thursday night, screaming at him and prompting both benches and bullpens to clear. No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected, and both teams left the field after a few minutes of milling about.
Beckett stayed sharp after the brief skirmish, limiting the Cleveland Indians to one run over eight innings in Boston's 7-1 victory.
Pitching keep the Red Sox alive, Beckett was thrown a curveball before the game even started. The Cleveland Indians enlisted country singer and Ohio native Danielle Peck to sing the national anthem and ``God Bless America.''
No big deal - except Peck used to date Beckett. There's even a picture of her wearing a Red Sox T-shirt and hat on her Web site.
``An incredible coincidence,'' Indians vice president Bob DiBiasio said. ``Honestly.''
Peck was simply filling in for Taylor Swift, another country star who was originally scheduled to handle the singing duties.
``(Peck's) record company called and said she's got Ohio ties and we said, 'Perfect,''' DiBiasio said.
Beckett was nowhere to be seen when Peck - dressed in neutrally dark clothes, with no logos from either team in sight - did the anthem. He was on the field when she sang ``God Bless America,'' but he had his back to her as he saluted the flag, and didn't look at home plate after she finished.
If her presence bothered him, he didn't let on. He saved his outburst for Lofton.
The Indians hitter has been flipping his bat for years when he draws a walk. He did it on a 3-0 pitch from Beckett in the bottom of the fifth, apparently thinking he'd taken ball four.
Not so fast, plate umpire Gary Cederstrom said, calling a strike.
Lofton hit a fly ball to left on the 3-1 pitch, and Beckett began screaming at him as soon as the ball left his bat. Beckett continued screaming as Lofton ran to first, and the hitter began to head toward the mound after he was called out.
But several Red Sox infielders immediately moved in to keep the two apart, and players on both benches and in the bullpens soon joined them.
Beckett and Lofton got into a similar argument during a game in 2005. Lofton, then with the Phillies, dropped his bat at home plate after Beckett walked him. He stopped halfway up the baseline after an agitated Beckett, pitching for the Marlins, appeared to say something in his direction. Both benches cleared, but no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.
This isn't the first dustup between the two teams in the ALCS, either. Several Indians were miffed after Manny Ramirez paused at first base to admire his long solo home run in Game 4 on Tuesday night. Ramirez, a former Indian, insisted he wasn't trying to show anybody up.

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