It took the Red Sox five tries, but on Tuesday they finally picked up a win in Cleveland, downing the Indians 4-2 behind a strong start from Josh Beckett and Jason Varitek's first home run of the year.
Entering the game 3-1 on the year, Beckett's only loss to date had been the result of his five inning, three run start in Cleveland back on April 5. And after the first two innings, it appeared that he might be headed for a repeat performance. Beckett took 21 pitches to escape the first inning after walking Michael Brantley to start the game, and then ran into an even longer second inning.
After giving up a leadoff single to Travis Buck, Beckett let a curveball slip out of his hand against Orlando Cabrera. The second baseman ducked (that would end up being something of a trend, with three off-speed pitches ending up high and very inside on Cabrera during the game), but had the ball bounce off the top of his helmet, moving Buck to second as Cabrera took his base. Beckett battled back, striking out Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan, but gave up a ground ball single up the middle to Ezequiel Carrera. Though Orlando Cabrera was gunned down by Jacoby Ellsbury at third, the Indians took the 1-0 lead and left Beckett with 44 pitches on his arm.
From there things turned around for the Sox. With Fausto Carmona getting a little wild himself, the Sox found themselves with men on the corners and one out after Carl Crawford was hit by a pitch and Jacoby Ellsbury walked. Jed Lowrie almost brought three runs in when he made very loud contact, but with the wind blowing in the ball died just short of the wall in dead-center. Still, it was good enough for the sacrifice to tie the game. Up next was Adrian Gonzalez, who did his usual thing and, after Ellsbury stole second base, put the Red Sox on top with a line drive double into the corner in right field.
Beckett needed only 15 pitches to escape the third inning, but that was partially thanks to Jason Varitek throwing out Shin-Soo Choo trying to steal second. The Indians would try and run again in the fourth, but amazingly found the ball again waiting for them as Varitek caught Travis Buck for the second out of the frame, leaving Beckett's pitch count only 13 higher.
With Jacoby Ellsbury racing down a line drive in center and doubling Matt LaPorta off of first in the fifth, Beckett had successfully reigned in his pitch count. More importantly, though, the Sox found themselves with another run-scoring opportunity thanks to a leadoff double from David Ortiz. With Drew grounding out to move him to third, the Sox only needed Jason Varitek to put the ball into the air to take the lead. While he certainly did that, the captain ended up adding some emphasis to it, launching a rocket into the seats in right field to put the Sox up 4-1.
Beckett came back out to pitch the seventh, but ran into some troubles in the inning as an Orlando Cabrera walk and Travis Buck single off of Kevin Youkilis' glove put runners on the corners with two outs. Out came Rich Hill, and down sat Jack Hannahan, as Hill caught the zone with three frisbee-like curveballs out of six to strike out the lefty and end the threat. With Hill producing a scoreless eighth and Papelbon converting a rather shaky save, allowing a home run to Buck in the process, the Red Sox finally walked off the field in Cleveland with a win.