CLEVELAND — After spending over two weeks in last place, the Cleveland Indians are suddenly the hottest team in the American League. Tuesday night at Progressive Field, Michael Bourn’s two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Indians to their fifth win in a row, 5-3 over the Boston Red Sox.
On May 18, the Indians were 10 1/2 games behind first place Detroit in the Central Division. They are now 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers.
“Taking it day by day is the only way to dig yourself out of a hole like that,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. “If you look too far ahead, it looks so daunting, so you just try to do your job day to day.”
Right fielder David Murphy started the bottom of the seventh inning by drawing a walk off right-hander Jake Peavy (1-3). Catcher Yan Gomes singled Murphy to second, but third baseman Mike Aviles failed on a sacrifice bunt attempt, resulting in Murphy being thrown out at third.
However, Bourn, Cleveland’s center fielder, revived the rally by belting a double over the head of left fielder Jonny Gomes, scoring Yan Gomes and Aviles and giving Cleveland a 5-3 lead, which the Indians bullpen preserved.
Bourn has been the Indians’ hottest hitter during the winning streak. He is hitting .421 (8-for-19) during the streak and is hitting .299 for the season overall.
“I think he feels good about himself. He understands the kind of impact he can have on our team and he’s enjoying it immensely,” said Francona.
The win went to left-hander Nick Hagadone (1-1), who pitched out of a jam in the top of the seventh. Right-hander Cody Allen got the final four outs of the game to pick up his fifth save.
Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox cut it to 3-2 in the sixth inning, which began with a walk by Jonny Gomes. Left-hander T.J. House retired the next two batters and then was relieved by left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, who hit the first batter he faced, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Shortstop Jonathan Herrera followed with a single, scoring Jonny Gomes to make it 3-2.
Boston tied it with a run in the seventh inning off right-hander Scott Atchison. Third baseman Xander Bogaerts led off the inning with a double, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia followed with a double, scoring Bogaerts with the tying run.
The Red Sox had a chance to do more damage in that inning as Atchison intentionally walked designated hitter David Ortiz to put runners at first and second with no outs. But Atchison retired Jonny Gomes on an infield popout, and Hagadone came out of the bullpen to strike out catcher A.J. Pierzynski and right fielder Alex Hassan to end the inning.
The Indians started the game by banging out five consecutive singles in the bottom of the first inning off Peavy. Bourn singled, went to third on a single by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and scored on a single by left fielder Michael Brantley. Second baseman Jason Kipnis reached on a bunt single, loading the bases with no outs.
First baseman Lonnie Chisenhall made it five singles in a row by flaring a hit to shallow left center, scoring Cabrera to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Designated hitter Ryan Raburn grounded into a double play, but Brantley scored to make it 3-0. Peavy finally ended the inning by striking out Murphy.
“This is a tough one to lose,” said Peavy. “I don’t know if I’ve ever started a game with five straight hits. I felt like I made pitches there in the first no different than I did the rest of the game.”
In 6 1/3 innings, Peavy gave up five runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and one walk.
“Jake settled down after they bunched some hits together in that first inning. He kept the game very much under control,” said Boston manager John Farrell.
House bobbed and weaved through the first five innings, allowing plenty of base runners but only one run. With one out in the third inning, Bogaerts belted a first-pitch home run into the left-field bleachers, his fifth home run of the season and second of the series.
In his third major league start, House gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, and held Ortiz hitless in three at-bats.
“I used to watch him on TV when I was in junior high school so it’s kind of cool to have the chance to face him and have success,” House said.
NOTES: Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for the American League lead in hitting, but among players with at least 150 plate appearances, Chisenhall led the majors with a .360 average at the start of play on Tuesday. … Indians 1B Nick Swisher, on the disabled list since May 27 with a hyperextended knee, likely will begin a minor league rehab assignment at some point during the Indians’ 10-game road trip that starts Friday.