CLEVELAND – Their minds more at ease after two harrowing days, the Red Sox won again.
Converted closer Alfredo Aceves coasted through five innings, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava drove in two runs apiece and the Red Sox, bonded by the tragedy in Boston, struck quickly against Justin Masterson and beat the Cleveland Indians 6-3 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight win.
After Boston’s bullpen closed the game with four perfect innings, there was music again in the clubhouse and players gobbled down their postgame meals while watching NBA and MLB games on TVs. Finally, the horrific images aren’t everywhere.
And in the middle of the room, the “617 Boston Strong” jersey hung for all to see.
“A good all-around game,” Manager John Farrell said. “A very good game.”
Aceves (1-0), who began the season as a reliever, took a shutout into the sixth before giving up three runs. Andrew Bailey, filling in for injured closer Joel Hanrahan, worked the ninth for his first save.
Napoli had an RBI single in the first when the Red Sox scored three off Masterson (3-1), who came in without allowing a run in 19 straight innings.
Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi homered for the Indians, who dropped their third in a row.
The Red Sox hung the gray “617” jersey in their dugout, just as they did for Tuesday’s emotional series opener — one day after the deadly marathon bombings. The jersey, featuring Boston’s area code, has become a symbol of unity for the club.
Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Carp had three hits apiece as the Red Sox built Aceves a 5-0 lead.
Boston’s bullpen did its job, retiring 12 Cleveland batters in a row. Junichi Tazawa struck out four in two innings, Koji Uehara worked a perfect eighth and Bailey had a 1-2-3 ninth.
“The two innings by Taz were probably the difference in the ballgame,” said Farrell, who couldn’t have asked for more from his relievers. “Good stuff, a lot of strikes.”
Aceves coasted through four innings before Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a liner to deep right that appeared as if it might clear Victorino’s head and the bases, but the former center fielder ran it down and made the catch.
Blanked for five innings, the Indians finally got to Aceves and chased him with three runs in the sixth.
Carlos Santana walked leading off and Swisher followed with his second homer. Giambi then hit his 430th career homer — his first hit since signing with the Indians — to bring Cleveland to 5-3. Mark Reynolds hit a double and Aceves was lifted for Tazawa, who got three outs to end the inning.
The Red Sox added an unearned run in the eighth to make it 6-3. Ellsbury led off with a single, moved up on a wild pitch and scored from second when reliever Joe Smith fielded Victorino’s bunt and threw wildly to first for an error.
A close group to begin with, the Red Sox have become even tighter since the bombings. After they arrived Monday from Boston, just hours after the explosions near the marathon finish line, Farrell said 22 players went out to an impromptu dinner together.
“I don’t want to downplay the events that we just left in Boston, but I think what we’ve quickly come to see is a group that likes to be around one another,” Farrell said. “Those are encouraging signs.”
NOTES: Farrell would not commit to Hanrahan resuming his closer duties once he comes off the DL from a strained right hamstring. Hanrahan went on the disabled list Tuesday and can’t be activated until April 29. “I don’t think we’re sitting here today ready to make that claim,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to get through some things first, particularly how he responds with the hamstring.”