BRADENTON, Fla. — Josh Beckett pitched 3 1/3 innings after missing his last start because of an illness, allowing four runs on six hits Friday as the Boston Red Sox lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-7.

Beckett, who walked two and struck out one, was to pitch Sunday against the Minnesota Twins but was a late scratch.

“The numbers don’t look good but the most important number today was 70 pitches,” Beckett said. “It would have been nice to take 70 pitches a lot farther than 3 1/3, but I got my work in.”

Beckett was bedridden for four days with flu-like symptoms and lost about three pounds. He’s still weak but was eager to get back on the mound.

“The last time I was 100 percent I was about 16 years old,” Beckett said. “If we’re looking for 100 percent, I think I might make two starts this year.”

Beckett expects to be ready for the opener April 4 against the New York Yankees.

“I don’t think it will be a problem,” Beckett said. “We’ve got three or four more starts.”

Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm worked four innings and gave up three runs, two unearned. David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the first.

“It went down and in, right into his swing,” Maholm said.

Maholm, the Pirates’ likely opening-day starter, hasn’t faced an easy lineup in four starts. After two games each against the Red Sox and Yankees, he has a 2.70 ERA.

His next start will be Wednesday against the Red Sox.

“It’s fun,” Maholm said. “It keeps you working. Today I made a couple mistakes and I paid for them. That’s something that’s going to happen during the regular season. But overall it was a good outing.”

Delwyn Young knocked Beckett out of the game with a two-run homer, his fifth of the spring.

 

MIKE LOWELL, in two Class A games at Boston’s complex, was able to get five plate appearances, more than doubling the four he’s had this spring.

Serving as the designated hitter, bouncing between games on adjacent fields, Lowell had two hits, including a two-run homer, three RBI, a walk and a strikeout.

“Things still feel kind of quick, to be honest with you,” said Lowell, who is recovering from thumb surgery in December. “It’s just my third day seeing live pitching. But I think it comes quick. I felt a little better each at-bat.”