Boston received an excellent performance from a starter for the third time in the series Wednesday, as Josh Beckett allowed one run and four hits in his first complete game since Aug. 13, 2005 - a span of 60 starts - when he was with Florida.
Beckett’s only mistake was a solo homer to Franklin Gutierrez in the third inning. That was enough offense for Fausto Carmona, who worked eight stellar innings in a 1-0 victory that snapped the Red Sox’s five-game win streak.
“Whew, man. I thought his stuff was impressive,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Josh had explosive stuff, too. He just left one pitch over the plate.”
Carmona tied Beckett and teammate C.C. Sabathia for the league lead with 13 wins.
The Indians (59-42) returned the favor after they were unable to solve Daisuke Matsuzaka in a 1-0 loss Tuesday, wasting a terrific outing from Sabathia.
Cleveland followed a 1-0 defeat with a 1-0 win for the first time since April 17-18, 1942.
“You don’t see that a whole heck of a lot,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I think it says a lot about our guys - their character and their fight.”
The six starting pitchers in this series have combined to allow nine runs in 42 innings for a 1.93 ERA. Five of those runs were charged to Cleveland’s Jake Westbrook in Monday’s 6-2 loss.
Boston (61-40) had its lead in the AL East sliced to 6 1/2 games over the surging Yankees, who have won six straight. New York remained 4 1/2 games behind the Indians for the wild card.
There was some good news for the Red Sox despite the loss, as David Ortiz returned after missing five games because of a shoulder injury. Ortiz went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Gabbard (4-0, 2.97 ERA) will try to continue his surprising run of excellent starts for the Red Sox. The left-hander has pitched very well in each of his last three outings, allowing three runs and nine hits in 22 1-3 innings, including a three-hit shutout of Kansas City on July 16.
The soft-tossing Gabbard limited the Chicago White Sox one run and three hits through seven innings Saturday in an 11-2 victory. He got 15 of his 21 outs on grounders.
“I think I’ve come a long way,” Gabbard said, “just trusting myself and, honestly, the game doesn’t change from level to level.”
This will be Gabbard’s first appearance against Cleveland.
The Indians have scored three runs in this series, and part of that can be attributed to Travis Hafner’s struggles. The designated hitter went 0-for-3 on Wednesday and is hitless in his last 19 at-bats. He’s batting .219 (9-for-41) over his last 11 games.
Lee (5-7, 5.95) hopes to snap a personal three-start losing streak. The left-hander, who has 46 wins over the previous three years, has posted a 10.69 ERA in his last three outings.
He was reached for seven runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings Saturday in an 8-5 loss at Texas. Lee lost four consecutive starts earlier this season, but rebounded to go 3-0 in his next four appearances.
His 5-3 loss at Boston on May 28 dropped his career record in six starts against the Red Sox to 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA.
Boston’s Wily Mo Pena is 2-for-7 against Lee, with both hits going for home runs.