Three days from now, the Red Sox will get their next day off.

Anyone mind if Josh Beckett plays a few rounds of golf?

Earlier this month, Beckett incited a firestorm by spending an off day on the links after being skipped for one start because of a stiff muscle behind his right shoulder. At worst, he came off as disrespectful to the organization. At best, he showed a lack of judgment. Even pitching coach Bob McClure agreed it didn't look good.

But here is the reality: Like him or not, Beckett has been the Red Sox' best starting pitcher. And yesterday, he couldn't have been much better.

Facing the Phillies in the finale of a three-game interleague series, Beckett gave up seven hits, only three of which left the infield, and ran his scoreless streak to 14 innings before finally yielding a run in the eighth. The Red Sox emerged with a 5-1 victory, and Beckett posted a quality start for the sixth time in eight appearances.

"JB is a great pitcher," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "It's fun to be able to call any pitch any time. Especially when his stuff's working as well as it was today, it's a no-brainer."

Mike Aviles clocked a leadoff homer for the second consecutive game, then added an RBI single in the second inning to build a 2-0 lead against Phillies ace lefty Cliff Lee. Two days after getting 12 stitches in his ear, Saltalamacchia hammered a three-run homer to the hard-to-reach Ashburn Alley concourse in left-center field to stretch it to 5-0 in the third. David Ortiz [stats] made a few defensive gems in his second straight game at first base.

And if you believe in character-building wins or the existence of momentum in a sport in which a game is played nearly every day, then this weekend would qualify. Despite a growing list of injuries, the Red Sox won back-to-back games to take the series and inch to within one game of .500 at 20-21.