BOSTON – Jacoby Ellsbury walked to the plate thinking he had an advantage. One pitch later, he was running away from his celebrating teammates.
Ellsbury hit a game-ending, two-run double on Joe Smith’s first pitch, capping a four-run, ninth-inning rally that lifted the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians 6-5 Sunday.
Cleveland led 5-2 entering the ninth, when Chris Perez (2-1) walked Dustin Pedroia leading off. David Ortiz doubled, and Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit consecutive RBI groundouts.
Walks to Jonny Gomes and Jose Iglesias around Stephen Drew’s single loaded the bases. Perez fell behind Ellsbury 2-1 in the count and left with a shoulder injury. Ellsbury then doubled to left-center, and was chased down by teammates who ran from the dugout to celebrate Boston’s ninth win in 12 games.
“His mindset, I would think, is to attack the hitter,” Ellsbury said in the middle of Boston’s clubhouse. “The last thing I think he’s wants to do is walk me and bring in the tying run. I just wanted to be aggressive in the zone and get a pitch I could drive. Fortunately, I got it.”
Boston won three of four against Cleveland, managed by Terry Francona in his first series back at Fenway Park since leaving the Red Sox after the 2011 season. Francona led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
It was Boston’s ninth win in 12 games.
“When you think back to the ninth inning, the key at-bat to me was Iglesias’ walk,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “He fouls off a tough two-strike pitch, takes a close 3-2 pitch to walk. Unfortunately for them, Perez goes out with an injury. We felt like when Smith came in, that arm slot fit Jake’s (Jacoby’s) swing pretty well, and we saw the reason for it.”
Perez said he’s been dealing with some arm pain.
“I felt a little something in the shoulder today out there. Obviously not the best timing there. So, it’s something I have to deal with,” he said. “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.”
Francona knew what a tough spot it was for Smith.
“It’s very difficult. That’s tough duty,” he said. “With a 2-1 count you’ve 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’ve got to go regroup.”
Craig Breslow (2-0) allowed one run and two hits in two innings. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront gave up four runs — two earned — and five hits in six innings with eight strikeouts.
NOTES: Boston RHP Clay Buchholz (7-0, 1.73 ERA) was scratched from his scheduled start against Philadelphia on Monday night because of inflammation in the collarbone area. Tyler Cloyd (1-0, 2.70 ERA) starts for the visiting Phillies in the opener of a two-game series. “The doctors said I could throw and it wouldn’t affect my delivery. It was my call,” Buchholz said. “If it was September, I’d throw tomorrow.” Alfredo Aceves (1-1, 8.20 ERA) will take his spot.