Mark Loretta doubled with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday night and the Red Sox took advantage of a meltdown by reliever Fausto Carmona to beat the Indians 6-5. It was Boston’s third last at-bat victory in five games.
“I didn’t think we’d be able to get to Ortiz. After two outs, I didn’t think I’d get up,” said Loretta, who also hit a game-ending homer on Patriots Day. “I think the fans realize now that anything’s possible.”
Cleveland led 3-0 after one inning and 5-4 after eight, but Carmona couldn’t deliver the Indians their first save since closer Bob Wickman was traded to Atlanta on July 20. He struck out the first two batters of the ninth before hitting Doug Mirabelli and Alex Gonzalez on consecutive pitches, then walking Kevin Youkilis on a 3-2 pitch that wasn’t close.
With Ortiz, the reigning AL player of the month standing by, Loretta looped one off the Green Monster to end it.
“He did a real good job against those first two hitters,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said, adding he would stick with Carmona as the closer. “Then he just looked like he got in a hurry to get the third out instead of trying not to do too much. … It just kind of dominoed from there.”
Boston’s last three victories came on its last at-bat, with Ortiz delivering the others—a game-ending single to beat Los Angeles on Saturday and a three-run homer off Carmona on Monday. The slugger struck out four times Wednesday, but that didn’t keep him from landing on top of Youkilis in a pile during the postgame mayhem.
“Big Papi doesn’t know what to do at these things,” Loretta said.
Jonathan Papelbon (3-1) earned the victory with a perfect ninth.
“We’d rather be up by one,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “But in this ballpark, crazy things happen.”
Cleveland took a 3-0 lead off Boston starter Jon Lester, but the Red Sox came back with two in the fifth and went ahead on solo homers by Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena in the sixth. Travis Hafner hit a two-run homer in the eighth to give the Indians the 5-4 lead.
The Red Sox kept pace in the AL East with the New York Yankees, who beat Toronto 7-2 on Wednesday and remained percentage points ahead in the division.
Temperatures that reached 100 degrees during the day had cooled off to 82 by game time, but the Red Sox were taking no chances. They made batting practice optional for the players and provided “rain rooms” where fans could cool off.
The team also set up tables giving out free cups of water to keep fans from getting dehydrated.
But Lester barely had a chance to get warm before giving the Indians a 3-0 lead in the first. He put together five scoreless innings after that, thanks to a great play from his fielders.
Victor Martinez led off the sixth with a single and Casey Blake followed with a deep drive to center. Martinez was already rounding second when Coco Crisp tracked down Blake’s flyball. He reversed course as Crisp made a throw to the infield that was far to the right-field side of second. But Gonzalez chased it down, spun and threw to Youkilis to catch Martinez in time for the double play.
Lester, who was coveted by other teams at the trading deadline, gave up three runs and four hits and a walk in the first, then tacked on five scoreless innings to outlast fellow rookie lefty Jeremy Sowers. Sowers had pitched consecutive shutouts in his previous starts, and he extended his shutout streak to 22 innings before Youkilis hit an RBI double in the fifth and scored on Loretta’s single to make it 3-2.
Brian Sikorski allowed Ramirez’s game-tying homer just over the wall in straightaway center and a line drive by Pena that banged hard off the second row of the Monster Seats to make it 4-3.
Ramirez’s homer was his 30th—his ninth consecutive year with 30 or more. It was also the 465th of his career, tying him with Dave Winfield for 26th on the career list.
Hafner’s homer gave him 30 for the second year in a row.
Lester has five pickoffs. … Gonzalez hit his 200th career double. … Martinez’s homer was his 12th of the year. … Boston RHP Manny Delcarmen hadn’t pitched since Friday night because of a thumb injury. … The Red Sox named RHP Jason Johnson as their probable starter for Sunday. RHP Kyle Snyder, who pitched 4 1-3 scoreless innings in relief for the win on Monday, will work out of the bullpen.