Indians 7, Red Sox 6
CLEVELAND (AP)—Manny Ramirez’s final strut was back to Boston’s dugout.
Ramirez hit a 459-foot homer in the sixth inning but struck out with the tying run on in the ninth Tuesday night as the Red Sox lost their fifth straight, 7-6 to the Cleveland Indians.
Boston, which had started the season 15-6, hadn’t been 0-5 in May since 1976.
“Last week at this time, people were talking about how awesome we were,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Rafael Betancourt fanned Ramirez for the final out to earn his second save in two days as the Indians held on for their fourth win in a row, highlighted by Jason Davis (1-2) and Ramirez jawing at each other.
After Ramirez connected for his sixth homer—a drive that landed five rows from the top of the left-field bleachers—to make it 7-2, he and Boston’s bench yelled at Davis, who was apparently upset with Ramirez for posing to watch the ball’s flight.
“He’s earned the right to do that,” Boston center fielder Johnny Damon said. “It wasn’t like it just cleared the wall. The ball was crushed. He has 354 career home runs, he can pimp. I hope to see Manny pimp a lot more this season.”
Ramirez wasn’t available for comment.
Davis was, but the right-hander chose his words carefully when discussing his on-field conversation with Ramirez.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” said Davis, who walked down off the mound to challenge Ramirez. “I don’t worry about stuff like that.”
It was just Davis’ second win in his last 17 starts, but he had to survive yet another hair-raising ninth by Cleveland’s shaky bullpen to get it.
The Red Sox played poorly until rallying for four runs in the ninth off Japanese rookie Kazuhito Tadano, who gave up a three-run homer to Johnny Damon on a pitch he wasn’t even supposed to throw.
With one out and two on, and the left-handed hitting Damon coming up, the Indians needed to buy some time to get lefty Scott Stewart ready in the bullpen.
Manager Eric Wedge signaled for catcher Victor Martinez to have Tadano throw over to first, but Martinez missed the sign and Damon drove the reliever’s first pitch over the wall in right.
“There was a miscommunication,” Wedge said. “We had a young catcher and a Japanese pitcher and the worst-case scenario happened there. That can’t happen again.”
Scott Stewart came on and got the second out before Betancourt, the Indians’ current closer, struck out Ramirez for his second save—and second in two nights.
“At least we gave it a run,” Francona said.
Third baseman Bill Mueller’s two throwing errors allowed the Indians to score five unearned runs in the fourth off Derek Lowe (3-2), who gave up just two earned runs but a season-high 10 hits in five-plus innings.
Mueller took full blame for the miscues and Boston’s loss.
“I’m stating the obvious when I say I lost the game,” Mueller said. “Derek was doing great and I made two bad throws.”
Martinez drove in two runs and Matt Lawton had three hits as the Indians won their fifth straight at home, and sixth of seven overall.
Cleveland opened a 7-1 lead in the fourth, set up by Mueller’s bad throws.
Mueller twice threw wildly trying to get the lead runner on force plays at second base and the Indians capitalized on his generosity as Casey Blake, Jody Gerut and Martinez delivered run-scoring hits.
Lowe didn’t fault anyone but himself.
“It’s my job to make pitches, so the inning doesn’t continue,” Lowe said.
The Indians never gave Lowe a chance to settle in during the first inning as they scored two quick runs against the right-hander, who needed 28 pitches toget three outs.
Red Sox DH David Ortiz couldn’t hold back a smile after Tadano blooped him a 52 mph pitch in the eighth inning. “What do you call those pitches?” Ortiz said. “You have to have fun in this game, especially with what we’re going through.” Later, Tadano dropped a 56 mph floater on Jason Varitek, who fouled it back. … Indians utilityman Lou Merloni knows the Red Sox as well as anyone, spending 10 seasons in their organization. He says “rebuilding” is not in Boston’s vocabulary. “You’ll never see those guys doing that,” he said. “Their rebuilding process is to sign free agents to five-year deals.” … Following his latest solid outing on Monday, Indians’ RHP Jake Westbrook lowered his ERA to a league best 1.30—just ahead of teammate C.C. Sabathia‘s1.61.