BOSTON -- When pitching coach Mickey Callaway visited the mound before right-hander Josh Tomlin faced David Ortiz in the fifth inning Thursday night, the Cleveland Indians had decided to play the percentages.
Ortiz had batted against Tomlin only 10 times previously, but the Red Sox designated hitter did not have a hit off the Tribe right-hander.
No. 1 came in Big Papi's signature style.
Ortiz bombed a two-run home run to dead center field to give the Red Sox a three-run lead and the offensively challenged Sox awakened in a 5-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 37,750 at Fenway Park.
In the first of a four-game series, the Indians (33-34) dropped their third straight and fell to 3-4 on the road trip that began in Texas and stopped in Kansas City. But they have won nine of their last 13 and compiled a 22-17 record since May 1.
It also marked the Indians' fourth consecutive loss in Boston, where the Red Sox have won seven of the last eight and outscored the Tribe 52-31.
The Red Sox came in having scored just one run in their past three games in losing a series at Baltimore. But that trend changed when Ortiz connected on Tomlin's 0-1 pitch for his 15th home run of the year.
Ortiz's blast seemed to awaken the Red Sox, who tacked on two more runs in the sixth. Jonathan Herrera lashed a two-out triple to right field that ended Tomlin's night. Left-hander Nick Hagadone walked the first batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., then gave up a two-run double to Brock Holt that boosted the Red Sox lead to 5-2. Left fielder Michael Brantley nearly caught Holt's ball against the Green Monster, but it fell at the base of the wall.
After Ortiz homered, the Tribe battled back with two runs in the sixth. Michael Bourn reached on an error on pitcher Jon Lester, and with one out Brantley doubled to the left field corner. Jason Kipnis brought both home with a single under second baseman Dustin Pedroia's glove. After Carlos Santana flied out to center, Ryan Raburn bounced a two-out single past third baseman Holt. But Nick Swisher grounded into a forceout to end the inning.
Tomlin (4-3, 3.33) gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits in 52/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three. The unearned run followed Asdrubal Cabrera's 12th error, most among American League shortstops.
Going into the day's play the Indians led the majors in strikeouts (579) and had 29 double-digit strikeout games, five more than the next closest team. But on the road trip, they have gone a season-high seven games without such a pitching performance.
Red Sox left-hander Lester (7-7, 3.33) departed in the eighth to a standing ovation after giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits. He didn't face more than four Tribe batters in an inning until the fifth, when the Indians had two on with two out. But right fielder Grady Sizemore, the ex-Indian, jumped onto the low wall on the first base line to catch a fly ball by Mike Aviles to end the threat.
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