May 28 at Fenway: Red Sox 5, Indians 3: Curt Schilling struck out 10 batters for the first—and only—time this season and Kevin Youkilis hit an inside-the-park homer to extend his hitting streak to 20 games as the Sox spoiled Trot Nixon's return to Fenway Park. Nixon, who was a fan favorite during his seven seasons as the Sox' starting right fielder, started in right field for the Indians and received a 40-second standing ovation prior to his first at-bat. Nixon was the only Indians player not to strike out. Manny Ramirez also homered for the Sox while Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run in the ninth inning but struck out Travis Hafner with two runners on to preserve the win.
May 29 at Fenway: Red Sox 4, Indians 2: Josh Beckett was brilliant in his return from the disabled list to lead the Sox to the victory. Beckett, who missed two starts with an "avulsion" on his right middle finger, faced the minimum 19 batters through 6 1/3 innings before Travis Hafner's RBI triple in the seventh. Beckett allowed two runs on three hits and walked none while whiffing seven to win his eighth straight start. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek each homered for the Sox.
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May 30 at Fenway: Indians 8, Red Sox 4: Paul Byrd was at his crafty best and the Indians got to Daisuke Matsuzaka for six runs over the fifth and sixth innings as they salvaged the finale of the three-game series. Byrd allowed nine hits in six-plus innings, but the Sox were just 1-of-11 with runners on base in the first six innings. Byrd threw 61 of his 77 pitches for strikes and threw a first-pitch strike to 25 of the 27 batters he faced. Matsuzaka tossed four shutout innings but allowed eight hits—including five for extra-bases—to the final 11 batters he faced. Grady Sizemore chased Matsuzaka with a two-run homer. Matsuzaka allowed a season-high 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Ex-Sox prospect Kelly Shoppach homered in the eighth for the Indians, who had 18 hits.
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July 23 at Jacobs Field: Red Sox 6, Indians 2: Eleven months after he was diagnosed with cancer, Jon Lester made a triumphant return to the major leagues by allowing two runs over six innings as the Sox won the opener in Cleveland. Lester allowed five hits, walked three, struck out six and displayed his familiar tenacity by allowing no runs despite loading the bases in the fourth. The Sox scored four runs in the first off Indians starter Jake Westbrook. Grady Sizemore's two-run homer in the fourth provided the only runs for the Indians. Manny Delcarmen collected his first career save by tossing 1 1/3 perfect innings.
July 24 at Jacobs Field: Red Sox 1, Indians 0: Daisuke Matsuzaka emerged from a rocky first inning to toss seven strong frames and the Sox held the Indians hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position as they earned their ninth shutout win of the season. The Indians loaded the bases in the first against Matsuzaka, but he struck out Jhonny Peralta to end the threat. Mike Lowell's RBI single in the fourth capped a three-hit inning and produced the only offense of the game. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each tossed a perfect inning to close out the win. C.C. Sabathia was a hard-luck loser after allowing just five hits and no walks while striking out seven over seven innings.
July 25 at Jacobs Field: Indians 1, Red Sox 0: Fausto Carmona, nearly a year removed from a disastrous pair of blown saves against the Sox in Boston, didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and allowed just one runner to move into scoring position as the Indians turned the tables on the Sox. Coco Crisp broke up the no-hitter with a one-out single in the sixth but was later thrown out trying to score from second on David Ortiz' two-out single. Carmona allowed just four hits and two walks while whiffing six over eight innings before Joe Borowski struck out two in a perfect ninth for the save. Josh Beckett allowed just four hits and no walks while striking out seven in eight innings, but Franklin Gutierrez' solo homer in the fourth inning was enough to saddle him with the loss.
July 26 at Jacobs Field: Red Sox 14, Indians 9: Manny Ramirez hit two homers, Wily Mo Pena was 4-for-4 and fell a triple shy of the cycle and the Sox scored multiple runs in four innings in out-slugging the Indians in the final regular season meeting between the clubs. The Sox scored twice in the fourth and chased starter Cliff Lee during a five-run fifth. Pena hit a three-run homer in the seventh and Ramirez' delivered his second shot, a two-run blast, in the eighth. Every Sox starter had at least one hit except Kevin Youkilis. Kason Gabbard, making his last start for the Sox before his trade to the Rangers, was staked to a 9-1 lead in the fifth, but he didn't pitch long enough to get the win after the Indians tagged him for four runs in the fifth. Ex-Indian Julian Tavarez earned the win despite allowing four unearned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Franklin Gutierrez and Ryan Garko each homered for the Indians.
Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at email@example.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.
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