BOSTON — Mocked and booed relentlessly just a few days ago, the Red Sox are suddenly back in the good graces of Boston fans — at least for now.
Boston increased its modest winning streak to three with a 12-1 rout of the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. The Red Sox remain stuck in last place, but the way this season has gone a three-game winning streak is worthy of a celebration.
“You start putting runs on the board and winning, everyone’s going to get excited,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who homered during a six-run seventh inning and drove in five runs Sunday. “But we feed off that. We feed off each other. We feed off the crowd and that’s something we were able to do today.”
Rookie Will Middlebrooks hit his fourth homer for the Red Sox, who have rebounded from a 1-8 skid with three straight wins.
Daniel Bard (3-4) survived some early control problems and held the Indians to one run despite walking four and allowing six hits over six innings.
Justin Masterson (1-2) also had control issues, falling behind 4-0 while facing all nine Boston batters in the first inning. He lasted six innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and hit three batters.
“He struggled with his command, especially against left-handed hitters. When he does that he gets in trouble,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “His sinker was leaking out over the plate and they took advantage of it.”
Daniel Nava was 2-for-2 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Adrian Gonzalez doubled twice and Saltalamacchia finished 3-for-4 as the Red Sox had 12 hits against the Indians, who lost their third straight and for the fifth time in six games.
“We’re plenty capable of doing that,” Saltalamacchia said. “We’re a good hitting team. We’re a good pitching team. It just hasn’t come out yet. These past three games we’ve really kind of beared down and attacked them.”
The Red Sox held Cleveland to one run for the second straight game and needed just 2 1-2 hours to dispatch the Indians, the same amount of time it took in a 4-1 win Saturday night.
The atmosphere at Fenway Park has turned around considerably since the series opener Thursday, when fans booed starter Josh Beckett off the field in the third inning and never let up in an 8-3 loss.
“When you have a good team like we have a good team, things are going to get going eventually,” Nava said. “And hopefully this is the start of something good.”
Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 14 with leadoff double in the seventh, starting a six-run rally that extended the lead to 12-1. David Ortiz drove in Pedroia with a single, Gonzalez followed with his second double of the game and Middlebrooks walked on a wild pitch that allowed Ortiz to score from third. Nava drove in two with a double before Dan Wheeler finally got the first out of the inning when Cody Ross grounded out to second.
Wheeler wasn’t out of trouble yet. The next batter was Saltalamacchia, who drove a 1-1 pitch into the black batter’s-eye in straightaway center.
Masterson needed just four pitches to get out the first two batters, then started having control problems that led to a 4-0 lead for the Red Sox before the inning was over. Ortiz walked with two outs, Adrian Gonzalez doubled, Will Middlebrooks hit an RBI single and Nava hit another double.
Masterson then hit Ross with a pitch, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to drive in Middlebrooks and Nava. The inning finally ended when Mike Aviles — the ninth batter — popped out to short.
“You want to try and minimize that to just two. Keep it at two and you feel a little bit better. At four, you’re like ‘Oh my goodness. Come on!'” Masterson said. “You never want to put your boys in type of hole.”
Bard struggled with control in the third when he walked two straight batters, Jason Kipnis singled to load the bases and then Bard walked Asdrubal Cabrera to give Cleveland its only run.
“I knew if I could get through that and limit the damage there, then I’d get back on track. And that’s just what I did,” Bard said.
Middlebrooks hit a line-drive homer to left, just clearing the top of the Green Monster to put the Red Sox up 5-1. It was the fourth homer of the season for Middlebrooks, who was playing in just his 10th game since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.
NOTES: The Red Sox have two more games in their current homestand, starting Monday against Seattle. … Cleveland LF Johnny Damon got applause before the top of the third and tipped his helmet in appreciation to the fans who have routinely booed him since he left Boston after the 2005 season and signed as a free agent with the rival New York Yankees. … Boston placed OF Darnell McDonald on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique and activated 1B Mario Gomez, who made his big-league debut as a late substitute. Boston also moved OF Jacoby Ellsbury from the 15-day DL to the 60-day as he recovers from a separated right shoulder.