BOSTON — Joe Smith threw just one pitch for the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, but Jacoby Ellsbury belted it for the game-winning hit.
Ellsbury’s two-run double off Smith capped a four-run, ninth-inning rally that gave the Boston Red Sox a dramatic, 6-5 victory over the Indians at Fenway Park.
Trailing by three runs, the Red Sox sent eight batters to the plate in the ninth to face Chris Perez. Dustin Pedroia led off with a walk, followed by a David Ortiz double. Pedroia scored on Mike Napoli’s ground out. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting, Ortiz stole third base — the second time in his career he’s done that and second time in less than a week — and scored on Saltalamacchia’s groundout.
After Jonny Gomes walked, Stephen Drew singled, sending Gomes to third. Drew then stole second base. Jose Iglesias walked, loading the bases for Ellsbury.
But on a 2-1 pitch to Ellsbury, Perez was injured, bringing in Smith to replace Perez.
Ellsbury needed just one pitch, slamming a double into center field, scoring the tying and winning runs.
“Biggest thing is, we didn’t abandoned the plan,” said Boston manager John Farrell. “We continued to stay within a pretty strict strike zone. Perez threw a number of quality pitches that were just off the edge.
“We were able to bunch some hits and the three walks combined but when David hits the double, we felt we had life in the ninth inning, but we felt it elevated us a notch or two.
“Really, when you think back, the key at-bat was the Iglesias walk. He fouls off a tough two-strike pitch, he gets a walk on a close 3-2 pitch. Unfortunately for them, Perez goes out with an injury.”
Facing a new pitcher during an at-bat was a new experience for Ellsbury.
“I’ve never really been in that situation,” Ellsbury said. “But I know him coming in, his mindset is to throw a strike and try to make it 2-2. I figured I’d be aggressive, if I got my pitch.”
Cleveland manager Terry Franco admitted the circumstances were not easy for Smith.
“It’s very difficult,” said Francona. “That’s tough duty. With a 2-1 count you got to throw a strike, and he did. To Ellsbury’s credit, he put the wood on it and put the barrel on it and now we got to go regroup.”
Perez said he felt something in his arm while warming up.
“Bullpen (session) felt a little stiff, nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “I haven’t pitched in a week or so, so I didn’t think it was out of the ordinary. Then I felt it obviously on that last pitch to Ellsbury. It kind of pinched on me and sent a little pain down my arm. Then I tried to throw another pitch and it just wasn’t happening.”
Neither starting pitcher was involved in the decision. Indians right-hander Corey Kluber went 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts and a hit batter. Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront went six innings, giving up four runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts and two home runs.
The Indians got to Doubront for two runs in the first. Michael Bourn opened the game with a single and stole second. Jason Kipnis reached on an error by center fielder Ellsbury. After Asdrubal Cabrera struck out, Nick Swisher singled to load the bases. After Mark Reynolds struck out, Carlos Santana singled, scoring Bourn and Kipnis. But, Santana was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
The Red Sox got a run in the third when Drew led off with a ground-rule double, scoring on Daniel Nava’s single.
Solo home runs by Kipnis (with two outs in the fifth) and by Swisher (leading off the sixth) extended Cleveland’s lead.
With Craig Breslow pitching the eighth for Boston, Kipnis led off with a double to right-center, taking third on Cabrera’s single to center, and scoring on Swisher’s sacrifice fly, as Cabrera was caught off first base, giving the Indians a 5-1 lead.
Boston got a run in the eighth when Drew led off with a triple, then scored on Iglesias’ sacrifice fly.
Breslow earned the win, while Perez took the loss, and Smith was charged with a blown save.
NOTES: With the Red Sox starting a left-hander, DH Jeremy Giambi was not in the starting lineup again on Sunday. He entered Sunday batting just .150, going 9-for-60, this season. He is hitting .143 against lefties this season, going 1-for-7 with a home run and three RBIs…Francona said RHP Vinnie Pestano’s elbow is fine, which had him on the disabled list from May 1 -17 with tendinitis. Pestano gave up four runs in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 7-4 loss and has had diminished velocity and command. .. Entering Sunday’s game OF Michael Brantley was hitting .316, the 12th-highest batting average in the American League. Since April 20, he was hitting .346 (44-for-127) with 22 RBIs in 30 games. He had reached base via hit, walk, being hit by a pitch in 39 of his 45 games…Cleveland’s bullpen had a 3.63 ERA entering Sunday’s game. But in the past week, since May 18, it had an ERA of 6.59 ERA, 13th in the AL in that time, giving up 20 runs on 30 hits in 27 1/3 innings…RHP Brett Myers, who is on the DL with a right elbow injury, is scheduled to make a minor league rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Monday. He went 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA in four games before being shut down…LHP Franklin Morales, who has been on the Red Sox DL all season with back and pectoral ailments, is expected to be activated Tuesday. He will likely work out of the Boston bullpen…Drew had been given a day off on Saturday but was back in the lineup on Sunday…LHP Andrew Miller entered Sunday second among major league relievers with a rate of 15.85 strikeouts per nine innings. In 15 1/3 innings this season, he has recorded 27 strikeouts. He trails only Detroit’s Al Albuquerque, at 16.33… Pedroia entered Sunday with an eight-game hitting streak at Fenway Park. In that stretch he is batting .515, going 17-for-33, with four doubles, six RBIs, and six runs scored. He went 0-for-2 Sunday…After the game the Red Sox announced RHP Clay Buchholz has been scratched from his Monday start because or irritation in his shoulder. He is expected to start later in the week.