BOSTON – They began the night with plenty of All-Stars on the roster.

Not only did Boston have American League designated hitter David Ortiz, but Mauro Gomez, Justin Germano and Pedro Ciriaco were International League selections this season.

International League, as in Triple-A, as in What Are They Doing Here?

Not only were the Pawtucket players at Fenway in a game against the New York Yankees, but Gomez, a first baseman, played out of position as the starting third baseman.

And Germano found himself warming up in the first inning after only five batters.

It was Red Sox-Yankees bizarre-fest.

Beckett and the Red Sox looked to be toast before Boston even batted, thus the need for Germano to hurry up and get loose.

But Germano was never needed, and Gomez actually put the Red Sox ahead temporarily with an RBI single in the fifth inning.

It looked like the patched-up Boston roster might pull it off.

Instead, the Red Sox continue to mystify.

In its just-completed seven-game trip, the pitching staff allowed three runs or less six times. The Red Sox won only two games.

On Friday, when Josh Beckett gave up five runs un the first inning, it looked like a night for old jokes about fried chicken and playing golf.

But then Boston also scored five in the first — that’s five, as in the total number of runs scored in three games in Oakland.

After the second inning it was 6-6, when Beckett and Hiroki Kuroda decided to settle down.

Beckett’s line: five innings, eight hits, six runs, two walk and five strikeouts. And he was actually in line for the win after Gomez’s single.

To be fair to Beckett, he hasn’t always received a lot of run support. So maybe he gets a break with a win on Friday.

But the Red Sox bullpen, which has been so strong since April 21, gave it up in the seventh inning, allowing four runs.

Do you remember April 21? That’s when the Yankees pounded Boston relief for seven runs in both the seventh and eighth innings for a 15-9 win. That Red Sox defeat prompted Manager Bobby Valentine’s “we’ve hit rock bottom” comment.

Boston won six straight after that.

And Red Sox fans have been getting their hopes up since.

Every time it looks like Boston is going to get some traction and make a move, it slips.

The Red Sox get hot in June, then forget to bring their bats to Seattle and Oakland.

Boston comes back to take the lead against the Yankees, with the aforementioned Gomez looking like an unlikely star.

Then Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla and Scott Atchison — three reliable relievers — combine for a four-run New York seventh. New York eventually won, 10-8.

Another tease, before disappointment.

There will be more teases. You keep hearing that help is on the way.

Outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford are spending time with the Sea Dogs and will be in the majors soon. Clay Buchholz, getting over an illness, threw a bullpen Friday. Dustin Pedroia, placed on the disabled list with a sprained thumb, might be gone only two weeks. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, out with a strained hamstring, could play today.

There’s always hope.

But there are 41 losses already on the ledger, next to 42 wins.

It is July 7. The Red Sox are 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees. Boston also trails Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

The only good news Friday is that Toronto lost. The Blue Jays are still a half-game behind Boston.

So the Red Sox have avoided last place, for now. Call me skeptical, but I believe Boston fans are hoping for more than that.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases