BOSTON: Justin Masterson appeared to be turning around a season made even more disappointing by the fact it’s his contract year.
The 29-year-old right-hander had won his first two starts this month after finishing May with three losses and an ugly no-decision in Baltimore. Two starts ago, June 2 at home against Boston, he struck out a season-high 10 Red Sox.
But Friday night the bad old days returned as the Indians fell 10-3 to the Red Sox before a crowd of 35,772 in soggy Fenway Park.
Pitching on four days of rest, Masterson (4-5, 5.05 ERA) lasted only two innings and gave up five earned runs on three hits. He walked the first two batters in the second and third innings and all four scored. He threw 59 pitches, the fewest, and the shortest outing in his career in a game that was not shortened by rain or by injury.
Averaging just over eight strikeouts per nine innings in 2014, Masterson didn’t fan a batter.
The Indians dropped their fourth straight and fell to 3-5 on the road trip to Texas, Kansas City and Boston that ends Sunday. The Red Sox won their season-high seventh consecutive home game and continued their mastery of the Indians in Fenway, where they have taken eight of the last nine against the Tribe.
The Indians are 12-24 on the road this season.
Masterson retired the side in order in the first, but then the struggles began. After walks to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to start the second, Daniel Nava singled to center and A.J. Pierzynski drove in two with a double to center. One out later, Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled to right for the third run.
The third inning was a near replay, although Masterson wasn’t on the mound for long. He was lifted for left-hander Kyle Crockett, who arrived about 90 minutes before game time after being called up from Triple-A Columbus. After Crockett retired Ortiz on a fly ball to left that Michael Brantley ran a long way to get, Napoli doubled in two runs.
The Red Sox, who scored one run in their previous three-game series at Baltimore, sent nine men to the plate and tacked on four more runs in the seventh, highlighted by Dustin Pedroia’s two-run double off the Green Monster. In the eighth, Cody Allen surrendered a solo home run to Xander Bogaerts, whose ball hit the light pole in left field.
First baseman Carlos Santana smashed his eighth home run, a two-run shot to right field in the second inning that gave the Indians a 2-0 lead. After Boston went ahead 3-2 in the second, the Indians tied it 3-3 on back-to-back doubles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Brantley to lead off the third.
But right-hander John Lackey (8-4, 3.24 ERA) and two Red Sox relievers held the Indians to one hit the rest of the way, that a two-out double by Cabrera in the seventh. Brantley reached on an error in the fifth and Yan Gomes walked in the sixth as 21 of the Indians’ final 24 batters were retired.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.