CLEVELAND (AP)—It took the World Series champs to slow down the surging Cleveland Indians, and it took them until the final out to do it.
Manny Ramirez homered and drove in four runs against his former team, and the Boston Red Sox held off a late Cleveland comeback for a 10-9 victory Monday night, ending the Indians’ nine-game winning streak.
“Well, we won, barely,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think that’s what you call hanging on for dear life. That’s a pretty good team over there. They don’t stop playing.”
Ramirez and Jason Varitek each hit a three-run homer, with Varitek’s shot coming during a six-run fifth inning that sent Indians starter C.C. Sabathia walking off the field in disgust after one of the worst starts of his career.
“I messed up a nine-game win streak,” Sabathia said. “That is unacceptable.”
Cleveland made it close with consecutive home runs in the eighth, but Johnny Damon connected in the ninth to provide a key insurance run for the Red Sox, who have won seven of eight.
“They had the momentum. I knew we needed to do something real bad or we were going to be in trouble,” Damon said.
All that offense made a winner of David Wells (6-4), who won his fourth straight decision despite a rough outing.
“These guys are coming out scoring runs,” Wells said. “You’ll never feel bad getting nine, 10 runs a game.”
The Indians’ winning streak was their longest since 2002 and moved the club to seven games over .500 after a slow start to the season.
The Red Sox are on a run of their own, improving to a season-high nine games over .500.
Damon’s homer made it 10-8. Foulke allowed an RBI double to Jhonny Peralta in the bottom half, then retired Grady Sizemore and Coco Crisp for his 14th save in 16 chances. Damon called off Ramirez and tracked down Crisp’s slicing fly near the warning track in left-center for the final out.
Ramirez, who left Cleveland as a free agent after the 2000 season, hit his 15th homer to the porch in left for a 3-1 lead in the fourth. He was simultaneously booed by the hometown crowd and cheered by visiting Red Sox fans as he rounded the bases.
Ramirez is 8-for-14 with four home runs and seven RBIs against Sabathia (5-4), who stood with his hands on his hips as Ramirez trotted home.
The slugger added a broken-bat, bloop double that landed on the left-field line to make it 6-4 in the fifth.
Two batters later, Varitek hit a 420-foot homer just over the 19-foot wall in center. He stopped on second thinking the ball stayed in the park, but second base umpire Larry Vanover signaled him to circle the bases.
That ended the night for Sabathia, who walked off the field with his hat cocked even more crooked than usual. He was booed by the crowd and appeared to say something to the fans sitting behind the Cleveland dugout, then slammed his glove on the bench.
“I deserved to get booed tonight,” he said.
Sabathia gave up a career-high nine earned runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. He lasted just 3 1-3 innings in his previous start.
“He started out strong but it was similar to his last outing where one bad inning dominoed on him,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Wells said he felt as if he had to fight for every out, allowing four runs, 10 hits and two walks over five innings. He has not lost since May 24.
His 17-inning scoreless streak was snapped in the first on Martinez’s RBI single. It also ended 16 scoreless innings by Red Sox starters.
But Damon tied it with an RBI single to start the six-run fifth. David Ortiz then slapped the ball to Boone at third, whose throw home was off, allowing Mark Bellhorn to graze the plate with his hand and elude Martinez’s tag for a 5-4 lead.
Boston RHP Curt Schilling threw 65 pitches in a simulated start and will throw another session Friday in Philadelphia as he recovers from an ankle injury. … Sizemore singled in the second to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. … Fans in the left-field bleachers chanted “Get a haircut” to Damon, who took off his hat and turned to face the crowd with his arms outspread. … Wells has not lost to the Indians since 2000 and has won 12 of his last 13 starts against them. … Boston has scored six or more runs in nine of its last 10 games. … The Indians are 19-1 when they score six or more runs.