BOSTON -- The Boston sports fan was set up rather nicely Saturday. The Red Sox would begin play at Fenway Park about four hours before they would drop the puck at TD Garden in what could be a clinching game for the Bruins.
The Sox held up their end of the bargain just fine, rallying for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to wrest a 7-4 victory from the Cleveland Indians.
Pinch hitter Mike Carp drove in the tying run and Dustin Pedroia pushed across the go-ahead tally, both with doubles off the Green Monster. The Indians then let a lazy popup fall to the ground for the second time in the game, this time with the bases loaded, to give Daniel Nava a cheap, but effective, rally-capping two-run single.
Jon Lester gave up four runs in seven innings, Junichi Tazawa worked the eighth to get the win, and Andrew Bailey picked up his first save since April 24. Lester allowed a season-high 10 hits while throwing 124 pitches, the most he has delivered in a game since May 30, 2011.
Pedey the Great: Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked before the game if and when he would give Pedroia a breather. Boston's second baseman on Saturday became the first major leaguer to play in 50 games this year. Farrell hinted, in so many words, that a break for Pedroia isn't coming any time soon. "He's still going strong," Farrell said.
"Strong" might not be a strong enough word for Pedroia, who had two more doubles and a walk Saturday, lifting his average to .337. Let it be known that Farrell also casually linked another term to Pedroia that has a bit more oomph to it: MVP.
He said it, not us.
Hello, old friend: Lester and Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir were born 17 days apart in 1984 and once were on similar career paths as star lefties on American League East rivals. Kazmir's career became sidetracked, and the southpaws, now 29, went more than four years between meetings prior to Saturday.
The last time they opposed each other was in Boston on May 9, 2009, when Lester was lit up for eight runs in 4 1/3 innings as Kazmir's Tampa Bay Rays rolled to a 14-5 win. Also, Rocco Baldelli homered. For the Red Sox. My how times have changed.
Same problem, different day: In an otherwise solid campaign, Lester has had a couple of upsetting trends, both of which emerged Saturday. By allowing a run in the first and two in the third, his ERA over the first three innings of games rose to 4.36. That figure falls to 2.84 in Innings 4 through 6, and he had yet to allow a run from the seventh inning on before a wild pitch in the seventh allowed the Indians to snap a 3-3 tie.
It is nice to have a pitcher who gets stronger as the game goes on, but limiting the damage a bit more in the early frames would do wonders for Lester.
In addition, three of the four runs Lester gave up came with two outs. He was reached for six runs -- all with two outs -- in his previous start in Chicago.
Infield hits. That's what I do: When a bunch of ex-players are sitting around a barbershop in a Nike commercial in 2044, Jose Iglesias will appear. When the other players discuss his game, Iglesias will chime in: "One thing I could do was get infield hits." (For help with the reference, Google "George Gervin" and "finger roll.")
Iglesias had another infield hit in his first at-bat and scored Boston's first run. At the time, that was his 11th hit of the year and his sixth of the infield variety. For good measure, Iglesias added two more hits, one a double down the right-field line and another a line-drive single that right fielder Ryan Raburn nearly caught with a dive.
Oh no, Pedro: Iglesias scored on Pedro Ciriaco's single to right, providing an unlikely offensive pairing for the Sox. Ciriaco had two more hits and scored the game-tying run in the eighth. However, he remains a liability defensively. He committed his seventh error of the season Saturday and his fourth in limited action at third base when a throw from center field skipped through the wickets and into foul territory, allowing two Indians runners to move up 90 feet.
Boston's lack of depth at third base has been on full display this season as Will Middlebrooks deals with various physical issues. It's interesting to note that Danny Valencia, whom the Sox traded to Baltimore in the offseason, has gone 3-for-8 with two home runs in his last two games for the Orioles. Valencia led the AL in games played at third base just two years ago, so he's accustomed to the position. But he's no longer an option for Boston.
Gomes, sweet Gomes: For a guy who never reached base and had just a couple of chances in left field, Jonny Gomes had a huge impact in this one. He threw out Asdrubal Cabrera at home for the second out of the third inning, a mammoth play to allow Lester to limit the damage in his one bad frame.
And it was Gomes who stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth after an intentional walk to Jacoby Ellsbury and lifted a game-tying sacrifice fly to center.
Golden Sombrero, and a little extra: In his first game since May 11, catcher David Ross had one to forget, fanning five times in five at-bats, the last to end the rally in the eighth.
Up next: The highly anticipated Corey Kluber-Felix Doubront matchup, of course! The Indians and Red Sox finish their four-game series Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. Boston then hosts Philadelphia for two games, travels to Philadelphia for two games and hits New York for three with the first-place Yankees.