But it was set-up man Vinnie Pestano who stood up and shouldered the blame for the Indians’ 7-4 loss after he blew the save and was tagged with the loss for allowing the Red Sox to rally for four runs in the eighth inning.
Pestano, who recently came off the disabled list after a bout of elbow soreness, admitted his velocity was down to 87-88 mph from his usual 92-93 mph range. But he said his elbow was not bothering him after pitching in two consecutive games at a rainy-and-cool Fenway Park.
“I’m not feeling any discomfort,” he said. “I don’t feel my elbow at all. I’m trying to throw the ball as hard as I can, it’s just not coming out. So, I just gotta keep plugging away, use the shoulder program, stick with playing catch. I felt good out there today, better than last night.
“If I make a better pitch selection and throw better pitches in certain situations, it’s a one-run game instead of a three-run game. A lot of that’s on my shoulders since I’m the one with the ball in my hand. So I gotta make sure that the pitch I’m throwing is the pitch I want to throw and when I throw it, it’s doing what I want it to do.”
The Indians managed to overcome fielding errors by right fielder Ryan Raburn and third baseman Mark Reynolds earlier in the game to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning when Pestano relieved Joe Smith.
After getting the first out on a groundout, it became obvious Pestano wasn’t his usually solid self. Three of the next four batters banged doubles off the Green Monster in left field for two runs that lifted Boston to a one-run lead.
Pestano then intentionally walked slugger David Ortiz. But when he followed the walk to Oritz with one of the unintentional variety to first baseman Mike Napoli to load the bases, the right-hander was asking for trouble.
That’s exactly what Pestano and the Indians got. The swirling winds in Fenway helped to turn a flare to shallow left field off the bat of right fielder Daniel Nava into a two-run single as it dropped between converging left fielder Michael Brantley and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
“Cabbie is out there,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He thinks he’s under it and he looks up and the wind brought it back 20 feet and it ends up being in no-man’s land.”
Said Brantley: “The wind took it away and blew it back … off the bat I thought it was mine all the way. I thought it was going to come right to me. But the wind took it all the way back toward second base.”
The Indians scored in the first inning against Red Sox starter Jon Lester. With two out, Cabrera singled, stole second base and scored on Nick Swisher’s double.
The Red Sox evened the score with a run in the second inning. With two out, shortstop Jose Iglesias singled, took second on a Scott Kazmir balk and scored on Pedro Ciriaco’s single.
In the third inning, the Indians regained the lead with two runs off Lester. Stubbs led off with a walk and came around to score two batters later on Cabrera’s double off the Green Monster.
A batter later, Cabrera was thrown out at the plate by Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes on Swisher’s fielder’s choice. Reynolds helped keep the rally going when he was hit by a pitch. Carlos Santana followed with a single that scored Swisher.
The Red Sox pulled within a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Nava led off with a walk and scored on Iglesias’ double to right field when Raburn bobbled the ball for an error after it struck off a corner of where the right-field stands jut out.
After five innings, Kazmir was pulled. Reliever Bryan Shaw entered with a one-run lead after Kazmir had limited the Red Sox to two runs on five hits while striking out six.
But Shaw quickly found himself in a jam in the sixth. After striking out catcher David Ross, Iglesias and Ciriaco hit back-to-back singles. Pedroia was intentionally walked to load the bases. Despite another error by Reynolds, Boston came away with just one run on a Gomes sacrifice fly that tied the score at 3.
“It was difficult (playing the outfield),” Brantley said. “There was a lot of wind up there above the stadium. When the balls got up in the air, they all tended to go to right field hard. You had to make an adjustment.”
Lester smacked himself on the head as he left the mound after his final inning in the seventh, mad at himself for a wild pitch that allowed Mike Aviles to score the go-ahead run. In his seven innings, Lester gave up four runs on 10 hits and struck out eight, including the side in the sixth inning.
Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa picked up the win for a scoreless inning in the eighth, and closer Andrew Bailey picked up his sixth save.