BOSTON – Justin Masterson took some pressure off new teammate Ubaldo Jimenez at Fenway Park on Thursday night.

With Jimenez set to make his Cleveland debut tonight at Texas, Masterson struck out nine in six innings against his old team, leading the Indians to a 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox that stopped Cleveland’s two-game losing streak

The loss dropped the Red Sox into a tie with the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East. The Yankees, winners of seven straight, come to Fenway for a three-game series starting tonight. Boston, 8-1 against New York this season, has been in first since July 7.

The win also kept the Indians from falling below .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.

Another loss would have put more on Jimenez’s shoulders tonight.

“I’m sure he has a lot of other things on his mind as he’s going to go out there, being a part of a new team, but hopefully that may ease a little bit for him,” Masterson said after helping the Indians split the four-game series and win only their fourth in 15 games. “I know he’s going to go out and pitch his game and I think we’ll like what we’re going to see (today).”

Jimenez, acquired in trade with the Rockies, has the ability to be a stopper, but Manager Manny Acta said the team now has two dependable starters.

“Right now, our main guy has been Justin Masterson,” Acta said. “He’s a guy who from now on, and for awhile now, we have tried to keep him on the five days routine because he’s the guy that we want to see out there every five days. It’s good that Ubaldo doesn’t have to feel like he’s a guy who’s going to stop it every time.”

Carlos Santana, who struck out four times Wednesday night, snapped a 3-3 tie with a two-run homer in the sixth inning and drove in three runs with three hits, and Travis Hafner and Kosuke Fukodome also collected three hits.

Masterson (9-7), traded by Boston to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez deal in 2009, raised his Fenway record to 10-2. He is 15-33 everywhere else. He is also 3-0 against the Red Sox.

“He’s good … we see his best,” said Red Sox Manager Terry Francona. “I am sure that he enjoys pitching against us. He’s impressive.”

Masterson tied a major league record with four strikeouts in the second inning, thanks to a wild pitch on a third strike. He is the sixth Indians pitcher — the first since Chuck Finley in 2000 — to strike out four in an inning.

He gave up two first-inning runs and a solo homer to Josh Reddick in the fourth. Three relievers finished up, with Chris Perez working the ninth in a non-save situation.

Erik Bedard, making his Red Sox debut after being acquired from Seattle, gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings. In his second start since coming off the disabled list, he was on a pitch count and came out after 70 with the score tied 3-all.

Hafner greeted reliever Franklin Morales (0-1) with a long double and on the next pitch, Santana, already 2 for 2 with an RBI, hit his 16th homer.

Hafner’s RBI double off Andrew Miller in the seventh and Fukudome’s RBI double closed the scoring in the ninth.

The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez and run-scoring single by David Ortiz. Gonzalez extended his season-best hitting streak to 14 games with his major league-leading 91st RBI.


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