BOSTON — Justin Masterson took some pressure off new teammate Ubaldo Jimenez at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
With Jimenez set to make his Indians debut Friday night at Texas, Masterson struck out nine in six innings against his old team, leading the Indians to a 7-3 win over the Red Sox that stopped Cleveland’s two-game losing streak.
The loss dropped the Red Sox into a tie with the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East. The Yankees, winners of seven straight, come to Fenway for a three-game series starting Friday night. Boston, 8-1 against New York this season, has been in first place since July 7.
Jon Lester, 8-1 lifetime against the Yankees and 2-0 this season, faces the Yankees’ Bartolo Colon, 0-2 against Boston this year, on Friday night.
The win kept the Indians from falling below .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.
Another loss would have put more on Jimenez’s shoulders Friday night.
“I’m sure he has a lot of other things on his mind as he’s going to go out there, being a part of a new team, but hopefully that may ease a little bit for him,” Masterson said after helping the Indians split the four-game series and win only their fourth in 15 games. “I know he’s going to go out and pitch his game and I think we’ll like what we’re going to see tomorrow.”
Jimenez, acquired in trade with the Rockies, has the ability to be a stopper — but manager Manny Acta says the team now has two starters who can be counted on.
“Right now, our main guy has been Justin Masterson,” the manager said. “He’s a guy who from now on, and for awhile now, we have tried to keep him on the five days routine because he’s the guy that we want to see out there every five days. It’s good that Ubaldo doesn’t have to feel like he’s a guy who’s going to stop it every time.”
Carlos Santana, who struck out four times Wednesday night, snapped a 3-3 tie with a two-run homer in the sixth inning and drove in three runs with three hits, while Travis Hafner and Kosuke Fukodome also collected three hits.
Masterson (9-7), traded by Boston to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez deal in 2009, raised his Fenway record to 10-2. He is 15-33 everywhere else. He is also 3-0 against the Red Sox.
“He’s good … we see his best,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “I am sure that he enjoys pitching against us. He’s impressive.”
Masterson tied a major league record with four strikeouts in the second inning, thanks to a wild pitch on a third strike. He is the sixth Indians pitcher — the first since Chuck Finley in 2000— to fan four in an inning.
He gave up two first-inning runs and a solo homer to Josh Reddick in the fourth. Three relievers finished up, with Chris Perez working the ninth in a non-save situation.
Erik Bedard, making his Red Sox debut after being acquired from Seattle, gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings. In his second start since coming off the disabled list, he was on a pitch count and came out after 70 with the score tied 3-all.
Hafner greeted reliever Franklin Morales (0-1) with a long double and, on the next pitch, Santana, already 2 for 2 with an RBI, hit his 16th homer to dead center field. It was only his second home run of the season right-handed.
Hafner’s RBI double off Andrew Miller in the seventh and Fukudome’s RBI double closed the scoring in the ninth.
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez and run-scoring single by David Ortiz. Gonzalez extended his season-best hitting streak to 14 games with his major league-leading 91st RBI.
The Indians tied the game on Matt LaPorta’s infield hit (Bedard failed to cover first) and an RBI grounder by Austin Kearns in the second, and Santana’s RBI single made it 3-2 in the third. Reddick tied the game again with his fifth homer of the year.
Yankees 7, White Sox 2
CHICAGO — Ivan Nova struck out a career-high 10 and the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Thursday night, completing a four-game sweep and winning their seventh in a row overall.
The Yankees moved into a tie with Boston for the AL East lead. The teams begin a three-game series at Fenway Park on Friday night.
Russell Martin hit a three-run homer in the ninth to break open the game and send Chicago to its sixth straight loss. He drove in four runs.
Nova (10-4) pitched 7 2-3 innings and won his sixth consecutive decision. He held Chicago to one run and six hits and didn’t walk a batter.
Rays 7, Blue Jays 6
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Robinson Chirinos hit a tying pinch-single in the 11th inning, then delivered a two-out single in the 12th that sent Tampa Bay to a 7-6 win over Toronto on Thursday.
The Rays twice rallied in extra innings. Desmond Jennings’ solo homer in the 10th made it 4-all and Chirinos tied it again the next inning with his two-out single off Shawn Camp (1-2).
Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the 12th on B.J. Upton’s one-out triple and two intentional walks. One out later, Chirinos grounded a single off Camp past diving shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Evan Longoria hit a three-run homer for Tampa Bay. Jose Bautista hit his major league-leading 33rd home run for Toronto, a solo shot that made it 3-all in the eighth.
Brandon Gomes (1-1), pitched one scoreless inning for his first major league win.
Rangers 5, Tigers 2
DETROIT — Alexi Ogando allowed two runs over 6 1-3 innings and Texas ended a three-game losing streak in a matchup of AL division leaders.
Ogando (11-5) became the first pitcher to defeat the Tigers three times this season — he has allowed three earned runs in 21 innings against Detroit for a 1.29 ERA.
Four Texas relievers finished, with Neftali Feliz pitching the ninth for his 22nd save.
Brad Penny (7-9) took the loss, giving up five runs and 11 hits — 10 singles and Michael Young’s triple — in 6 2-3 innings.
Texas added three runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler and a sacrifice fly by Endy Chavez.
Cardinals 7, Marlins 4
MIAMI — Albert Pujols hit his 25th home run and finished a triple shy of the cycle, and six relievers combined to pitch six innings and help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Florida Marlins 7-4 on Thursday night.
Pujols came into the game only 1 for 14 on the Cardinals’ trip. He walked and scored in the first inning, singled and scored in the third, homered in the fourth and doubled in the sixth. The first baseman also made a lunging backhanded stop to start a 3-6-3 double play.
The Cardinals’ David Freese earned a tough go-ahead RBI when he was hit in the helmet by a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the third inning. That put the Cardinals ahead to stay, 4-3.
Freese left the game with a mild concussion and a bruise.
Marlins second baseman Omar Infante broke his right middle finger diving for a grounder in the third.
St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse left after three innings — his shortest outing this season — even though his teammates gave him a 7-3 lead. He allowed seven hits, walked three and threw 74 pitches.
The Marlins had 14 hits, including five doubles, but they stranded 12 runners and hit into two double plays.
Kyle McClellan (9-6) replaced Lohse and pitched three scoreless innings. Lance Lynn struck out the side in the seventh.
Fernando Salas came on to retire Gaby Sanchez on a flyout with the bases loaded to end the eighth, then pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.
Matt Holliday hit his 17th home run for St. Louis, while Skip Schumaker had three hits, including a two-run double.
Clay Hensley (1-4), making his fourth start since joining the rotation from the bullpen, lasted 2 1-3 innings and allowed six runs. His ERA rose from 3.09 to 4.46.
The Marlins’ odd home-road disparity continued. They are 24-33 at home and 31-23 on the road.
Each team scored three runs in the first inning. Hensley walked consecutive batters before Holliday homered. Florida pulled even with four hits in the bottom of the inning, including an RBI double by Infante and a two-run double by Logan Morrison.
Hensley hit Holliday and Freese with breaking balls in the third. The pitch to Freese was Hensley’s last, and Schumaker then hit a two-run double to put the Cardinals up 6-3.
Infante was hurt when Schumaker’s grounder deflected off his right hand before rolling into right field.
Notes: Florida’s Wes Helms played 2B for only the second time in his career when he replaced Infante. … RHP Jake Westbrook, who starts Friday for the Cardinals, is 7-2 in night games this year. … Florida RHP Anibal Sanchez will seek to snap a career-long slump of nine starts without a win Friday. … Hensley had not hit a batter previously this year. … The stadium hosted its third sport in as many nights. The Dolphins practiced there Tuesday, and an international soccer game was played there Wednesday.