BOSTON – The Chicago Cubs stumbled their way around Fenway Park’s unfamiliar surroundings on Friday night as one would expect of a team that hadn’t been in the ballpark in 93 years.

Returning to Boston to play the Red Sox for the first time since the 1918 World Series, the Cubs committed four errors and gave up 19 hits in a 15-5 Red Sox victory. If the Cubs’ pitchers had forgotten in all that time how close the Green Monster is to home plate, they know now after Boston had six doubles and hit two home runs over Fenway’s famous left-field wall.

“All those flyballs,” said Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who misplayed a line drive into an error. “A routine flyball can go off the wall. We’re professionals. We need to make adjustments and play the wall.”

Adrian Gonzalez had four hits with four RBI, Kevin Youkilis had two doubles and a two-run homer and Jacoby Ellsbury also had three hits as Boston won its seventh consecutive game. The Red Sox are 22-10 since losing 10 of their first 12 games; they have passed the New York Yankees for the first time this season, and now trail the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays by just a half-game.

“That’s where we want to be,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had two hits, including a homer. “We know we’ve got a great team. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in first place right now. We want to be in first place and stay in first place the whole year.”

Jon Lester (6-1) won his sixth straight decision despite giving up a career-high 12 hits. He allowed five runs, two walks and a hit batter, striking out five. Scott Atchison earned his first career save with three innings of scoreless relief.

Jeff Baker had four hits and Aramis Ramirez three for Chicago, which was coming off a two-game sweep of the Florida Marlins. Doug Davis (0-2) gave up seven runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out three in 32/3 innings.

It was the Cubs’ first visit to Fenway since the 1918 World Series, a milestone that for decades reminded Boston fans of the club’s failure but now stands as a landmark only for Chicago as it seeks its first title since 1908.

“(This) put an end to my enthusiasm for this momentous occasion,” Cubs Manager Mike Quade said. “They’re tough. I feel really good about us offensively and we’re doing a good job against left-handed starters. But, four errors isn’t going to get it done.”

Cubs fans made their presence known in the sellout crowd of 37,140, outcheering the locals at times. There was even an appearance of the Blues Brothers in the stands.

But the Chicago players did not adapt well to their new surroundings, committing four errors plus a dropped flyball by right fielder Reed Johnson that was changed to a double. The Red Sox scored two in the first, one of them on a throwing error by catcher Koyie Hill when he tried to catch Ellsbury stealing third.


NOTES: The Red Sox activated RHP Dan Wheeler from the 15-day disabled list and selected INF Drew Sutton from their Triple-A roster. To make room for them in Boston, the ballclub optioned RHP Michael Bowden and SS Jose Iglesias to Pawtucket. To make room for Sutton on the 40-man roster, the club designated OF Daniel Nava for assignment. The Red Sox also added LHP Franklin Morales to the active roster. … Dennis Eckersley threw out the first pitch to Carlton Fisk. Bill Buckner was also in the ballpark, to provide analysis for the Chicago TV broadcast.