Indians keep Red Sox from clinching with 4-3 win
BOSTON (AP)—For one night, at least, Jensen Lewis didn’t have to watch the Red Sox celebrate again.
Lewis struck out Jed Lowrie with runners on second and third in the ninth inning, preserving the Cleveland Indians’ 4-3 win Monday in their first game in Boston since the Red Sox beat them in the AL championship series last year.
Lewis’ solid relief work, rookie Zach Jackson’s six effective innings and a bizarre play involving the third base umpire forced the Red Sox to wait at least one more day to clinch their fifth postseason trip in six years.
“It was just kind of reminiscent of last year,” Lewis said. “Our feelings are still pretty fresh.”
The Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the ALCS last season and lost the seventh game 11-2.
“For most of us, this is probably an emotional series because of what happened last year,” Lewis said.
The Red Sox, with six games left, fell 2 1/2 games behind AL East leader Tampa Bay, which beat Baltimore 4-2. Boston reached the playoffs as a wild-card team three times in four years before winning the AL East last season.
The Red Sox needed a win to eliminate the New York Yankees and lock up a postseason berth in pursuit of their second straight World Series title and third in five years.
Cleveland has the second-best record in the AL since July 10 and wants to finish strong, no matter how it affects the playoff race.
“We’ve been keeping the focus on ourselves,” manager Eric Wedge said. “One opportunity missed or one mistake made and that’s really going to be the ballgame.”
Jackson (1-3) allowed two runs and six hits. Josh Beckett (12-10) hit a career-high three batters, threw a wild pitch, walked one and said he wasn’t worried about clinching a playoff spot.
“We’re just trying to win games,” he said.
The Red Sox wasted chances in three of the last four innings, losing a run when a ball hit an umpire, missing a three-run homer when Kevin Youkilis’ drive hit the left-field wall a few feet from the top and stranding two runners in the ninth when Lewis earned his 12th save in 13 chances.
“Tons of opportunities,” Jason Bay said. “For some reason, it seemed like it wasn’t going to go for us.”
With Cleveland ahead 4-2, Boston had runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth.
Jeff Bailey then lined the ball inside third base. Umpire Gerry Davis signaled it was fair, but the ball hit him and stopped just beyond the infield dirt. Third baseman Jamey Carroll picked it up, and Bay, who had rounded third, was caught in a rundown and tagged out.
“When I hit the ball I thought it would kick off the side wall and I thought we’d get at least one run,” Bailey said. “When I saw Carroll getting the ball, I was wondering what happened.”
Jason Varitek was racing for third while Bay tried to retreat there after the ball hit Davis.
“I was rounding second. I saw the third baseman get the ball with the base open,” Varitek said. “It’s one of those freak plays.”
In the seventh, Youkilis’ near homer went for an RBI double that made it 4-3. Then Bay was walked intentionally, loading the bases with one out. But Rafael Betancourt struck out Lowrie and retired Mark Kotsay on a flyball.
Boston had another excellent chance in the ninth when Youkilis singled with two outs and took third on Bay’s double. But Lowrie struck out on three pitches, leaving five runners on in his last two at-bats.
“I’ve learned if that starts to snowball on you, you want to take a step back and keep your feelings in check,” Lewis said. “This is a really big win.”
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second after Beckett retired the first two batters. Ben Francisco doubled, Ryan Garko and Kelly Shoppach were hit by pitches, and Asdrubal Cabrera walked to force in a run.
Youkilis doubled in Jacoby Ellsbury in the third but Cleveland added three runs in the fifth.
Cabrera led off the inning with a single, took second on a groundout and scored on Carroll’s single. Carroll took second on a wild pitch and scored on Shin-Soo Choo’s hit. Jhonny Peralta’s ground-rule double put runners at second and third and Travis Hafner’s groundout made it 4-1.
Boston’s David Ortiz hit a solo drive in the fifth for his 23rd of the season. It was his fifth homer in seven games after he hit just one in his previous 27.
Ortiz’s homer was his 231st with the Red Sox, moving him into sixth place ahead of Mo Vaughn in team history. … Indians RHP Fausto Carmona was suspended for six games and catcher Victor Martinez and Cabrera for three games apiece after a bench-clearing incident with Detroit last Friday night. Carmona and Martinez will appeal their penalties, which were to have started Monday night. It was not known whether Cabrera would appeal his suspension, set to begin Thursday. … Kotsay is in a 3-for-34 slump and Lowrie has four hits in 33 at-bats.