Despite going 0-11 with runners in scoring position and stranding a small village (12) on the basepaths Saturday afternoon, the Cleveland Indians (34-35) were able to put their road woes on hold for a day as they defeated the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park by a score of 3-2.
The Indians left the bases loaded in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings against Red Sox starter Jake Peavy and the Boston bullpen, but they were able to take advantage of a late error to move their record to within one game of the .500 mark. The Indians got another solid outing out of their rookie starter T.J. House, who did not factor in the decision.
The Red Sox were able to take an early lead in the bottom of the first against House when Xander Bogaerts singled to left with one out in the inning. Two batters later, DH David Ortiz roped a double deep into right field, scoring Bogaerts from first and giving the Sox a 1-0 advantage.
It took the Indians to the top of the third to answer and tie the game at 1-1 in almost identical fashion. After Michael Bourn singled to centerfield, Asdrubal Cabrera launched a double into right field, scoring the speedy Bourn from first base as well. Cabrera was thrown out at third base on the play, but Bourn was able to come all the way around to score despite rolling his ankle out of the batter’s box on the single.
The Tribe offense then was bested all afternoon by Peavy when situations got the toughest. The Indians put runners at second and third base with one out as well as the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, but a David Murphy strikeout and a Yan Gomes fly out ended the threat without a run crossing the plate. The following inning, the Indians used a two-out rally to load the bases again off of Peavy, but Nick Swisher grounded out as the situation bore no fruit again for the Indians.
House and Peavy rolled into the middle stages of the ballgame, when House was the first to falter in the bottom of the sixth. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a groundrule double to center and moved to third on an “excuse-me” swing-groundout by Ortiz. John Axford was brought in to face the right handed Mike Napoli, who walked to put runners at the corners. A groundball to Cabrera at shortstop followed, but the Indians were just a split second too tardy to get a hustling Johnny Gomes at first as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead on the fielder’s choice. The 6-4 putout closed the book on House, who worked 5.1 innings and was charged with the two runs on six hits. The rookie southpaw struck out three and walked just one. Having been given the lead, Peavy was relieved by lefthander Craig Breslow to start the top of the seventh.
Breslow immediately surrendered the Red Sox lead, but the tying run came on a bizarre play at the plate. Cabrera had reached on an infield single to start the inning and then moved to third on a single by Michael Brantley. With runners at the corners, Jason Kipnis rolled a grounder to Dustin Pedroia at second, who came home with the throw in plenty of time to retire Cabrera. AJ Pierzynski, however, dropped the near-perfect throw by Pedroia prior to tagging out the runner, so the game was evened up at 2-2 on the veteran catcher’s error.
After two fly outs were recorded, Breslow walked Murphy to load the bases for Carlos Santana. Matching up against new reliever Junichi Tazawa, the Indians broke their frustrating trend for the afternoon, as Santana walked on a few borderline calls to score Brantley with the go-ahead run. A strikeout from Gomes left the bases loaded for the third time on the day, but the strange inning gave the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Kyle Crockett and Bryan Shaw bridged the gap to closer Cody Allen who worked a perfect ninth inning, notching his 7th save of the season.
The Indians will try to salvage a split at Fenway on Sunday as Corey Kluber (6-4, 3.35) will match up against Boston righty Brandon Workman for 1:35 Father’s Day contest. The game can be seen on Fox Sports/Sportstime Ohio and can be heard on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.
Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images