The Red Sox acquired closer Rod Beck from the Cubs for reliever Mark Guthrie and a player to be named later.

Last season, Beck became the fifth pitcher with 50 saves and was a key in the Cubs' chase for the NL wild card, converting 51 of 58 opportunities. He faltered at the start of this season, going 2-4 with four blown saves and a 10.54 earned run average. He was placed on the disabled list May 17 with bone spurs and chips in his right elbow, and underwent surgery five days later. He was activated July 21.

He has a 5.51 ERA and no decisions in 15 games since returning, though he pitched six scoreless innings in his last four outings. . . .

The Red Sox placed 3B John Valentin on the 15-day DL with knee tendinitis and recalled IF Wilton Veras from Class AA Trenton.

A CLEVELAND CATCH: The Indians, facing the possibility that C Sandy Alomar's left knee may keep him out of the playoffs, acquired C Tyler Houston from the Cubs for minor league P Richard Negrette. Houston, 28, is hitting .233 this season with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 100 games.

The versatile, left-handed hitter has appeared in 18 games at catcher and 63 games at third base. Alomar, hitting .317 with three homers and 16 RBI in 82 at-bats this season, went on the DL May 21. He had surgery 10 days later to remove a bone chip from his left knee.

Also yesterday, the Indians activated RHP Dwight Gooden from the 15-day DL, just hours before he was scheduled to make his first start since Aug. 2.

Gooden was placed on the DL on Aug. 3, one day after he was removed from a start in Boston after just 2 2/3 innings because of a strained right shoulder. To make room for Gooden, the Indians optioned left-handed reliever Tom Martin to Class AAA Buffalo. They also purchased the contracts of minor league Ps Jim Poole and Sean DePaula and placed Ps Jason Rakers and David Riske on the DL. . . .

C Pat Borders, the Blue Jays' World Series MVP in 1992, signed as a free agent with the team. Borders, who was released by the Indians, will join the Blue Jays tonight.