BOSTON: After a 44-minute rain delay to start Friday’s game at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox quickly got down to the business of repaying the Indians for the previous night’s nine-run blowout with a one-sided victory of their own.
The Red Sox set the stage for an 8-1 victory with a three-run second inning, continued with a run in the sixth and then piled on with a four-run seventh inning against three Indians pitchers.
The Red Sox got their first five runs against Indians starter Justin Masterson, who started the rainy night with a 20-inning scoreless streak. Masterson gave up five runs in six-plus innings, allowing six hits, a walk and striking out five.
Meanwhile, Red Sox veteran John Lackey carved up the Indians the way Masterson has done to a majority of his opponents this season. In seven solid innings, Lackey held the Tribe to an unearned run in the third inning on two singles. After that, he did not allow a hit and went on to rack up eight strikeouts.
Indians manager Terry Francona was impressed with Lackey’s effort under difficult conditions.
“I thought he was good,” Francona said. “He had velocity, he ended up throwing that cutter very effectively and kind of ran it in on our lefties. Then as he got more successful with it, he started bringing it off the plate a little bit and opened up the rest of the plate.”
The Red Sox struck first in the bottom of the second inning against Masterson with a three-run home run to right field by left fielder Mike Carp, whose blast snapped an 0-for-21 slump.
“I hung a slider to Carp and he crushed it for a three-run home run, but I tried to keep battling,” Masterson said. “Then we got ourselves into a little more trouble later.”
The Indians scored an unearned run in the third inning. Third baseman Mark Reynolds led off with a single, advanced to second on left fielder Michael Brantley’s single, stole third base and scored on Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throwing error on the steal attempt.
Masterson and Lackey (3-4, 2.72 ERA) swapped zeros for the next couple of innings until Masterson found himself in a one-out jam in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After striking out Jacoby Ellsbury to start the inning, Masterson hit Daniel Nova with a pitch, then gave up back-to-back singles to second baseman Dustin Pedroia and designated hitter David Ortiz to load the bases.
After Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway jogged to the mound to offer a little advice, Masterson induced first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a grounder that turned into a run-scoring fielder’s choice when Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis’ throw pulled first baseman Nick Swisher off the bag.
The run pushed the lead to 4-1, but Pedroia got a little greedy and attempted to score from second base as Swisher tried to tag out Napoli after leaping for Kipnis’ high throw.
Swisher recovered quickly enough to throw home, and catcher Carlos Santana easily tagged out Pedroia.
Left-hander Rich Hill replaced Masterson one batter into the seventh inning following a Saltalamacchia double that sailed over Michael Bourn’s head and bounced off the center-field wall. But Hill hit pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes and then with one out, loaded the bases on second baseman Jose Iglesias’ single.
Ellsbury also got to the rattled Hill as he singled past a diving Swisher to drive in two runs to increase the lead to 6-1.
Hill recovered to retire Nava but was then replaced by former Red Sox pitcher Matt Albers, who was treated to a loud round of applause when he reached the mound. Albers gave up a two-run single to Pedroia that made it 8-1 before finally getting out of the inning in which the Red Sox batted around.
Masterson (7-3, 3.20 ERA) struggled with his consistency.
“This is probably the first time I didn’t feel the greatest as far as I was hanging a lot of sliders, wasn’t getting through a lot of pitches like I want to,” he said. “If I didn’t hang a slider, I was hitting someone in the back foot with it. I got into some bad counts and didn’t feel as good as I would have liked to.”
He would not blame the rain for his struggles.
“I don’t know, I didn’t feel like I had a good whip and so everything felt like I was just pushing it to the plate,” Masterson said.
Francona just called it a difficult game and did not want to dwell on the loss.
“The conditions made it a tough night but both play in it, so it’s a better night if you’re winning,” he said. “Regardless of what happens, tonight’s game can have no bearing on tomorrow. That’s what we’ll do.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.