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Lester, Red Sox stop Cleveland

By Sports Direct
June 12. 2014 10:59PM
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester (31) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON — David Ortiz swatted a two-run homer to back 7 2/3 strong innings from Jon Lester as host Boston won the opener of a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians, 5-2.

Brock Holt had two hits and two RBIs and Daniel Nava collected three hits for the Red Sox, who were swept by Cleveland last week as part of a 2-7 road trip. Lester (7-7) improved to 7-1 lifetime against the Indians, allowing two runs - one earned - on eight hits before Koji Uehara worked a perfect ninth for his 14th save.

Jason Kipnis had a pair of hits and drove in both runs while Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes each had two hits for Cleveland, which suffered its third straight loss to drop to 3-4 on its 10-game road trip. Josh Tomlin (4-3) was tagged for four runs — three earned — on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Indians shortstop Astrubal Cabrera’s error in the second led to Grady Sizemore’s RBI ground-rule double in the second before the Red Sox made it 3-0 when Ortiz launched a fastball from Tomlin into the bleachers in center in the fifth inning for his 15th homer. Lester dropped a throw at first base in the sixth and it resulted in two runs when Brantley followed with a double and Kipnis singled home a pair to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Jonathan Herrera’s two-out triple in the sixth chased Tomlin in favor of lefty Nick Hagadone, who walked Jackie Bradley Jr. before Holt sliced a two-run double over the head of Brantley in left field to restore the three-run edge. Bradley preserved the lead in the seventh with a long running catch in center before turning to double Mike Aviles off first base.

Bogaerts is confident

Say this for Xander Bogaerts: He doesn’t lack for confidence.

After a sizzling 20-game stretch in which he batted .388 with four homers and a 1.106 OPS, Bogaerts is hitless in his last 16 at-bats, including an 0-for-4 in the Red Sox’ 6-0 loss to the Orioles Wednesday night. So the rookie infielder was asked if pitchers might be approaching him differently in the wake of his hot streak.

“I’m human,” Bogaerts said. “We all make mistakes. We all struggle. We all go through tough stretches. I’m going to be fine.”

And then, Bogaerts smiled and channeled his inner Dustin Pedroia.

“Sit back, relax and enjoy,” he said in a toned-down but equally self-assured version of Pedroia’s famous “Laser Show” prediction. “I’ll be fine.”

While Bogaerts, like the rest of the Red Sox, struggled at the plate against the Orioles, he sparkled at third base, his adopted position since shortstop Stephen Drew was re-signed last month.

After making two stellar plays Tuesday night, he made another barehanded charge of a bunt in the sixth inning and a diving stop and flip to Pedroia to get a force at second base in the fourth.

Ready for rehab stints

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks and right fielder Shane Victorino are on the verge of beginning minor league rehab assignments. Middlebrooks is set to serve as the designated hitter for Triple-A Pawtucket tonight, while Victorino could join him over the weekend.

But while they are poised to resume game action, their returns to the Sox lineup aren’t necessarily imminent.

Middlebrooks, who fractured his right index finger on May 16, isn’t ready to play defense because he’s still having trouble with his finger bending back when he throws. He’s trying to regain full range of motion, and before he intensifies a throwing program, he likely will have to be cleared by doctors.

So don’t be surprised if Middlebrooks uses up most of the maximum 30 days on his rehab assignment, especially because the addition of Drew last month has given the Sox more depth on the left side of the infield.

Victorino, meanwhile, is dealing with a recurrence of a right hamstring strain initially suffered on the final day of spring training. And while Farrell labeled Victorino’s progress over the past few days as “encouraging,” the Sox will take extra care even after he returns to the lineup to make sure he doesn’t reinjure it a third time.

“We have to prioritize his needs, because if there’s a third failure, then we’re into a situation we don’t want to be into,” Farrell said

Workman hearing is set

Right-hander Brandon Workman will have his hearing today to appeal his six-game suspension for throwing near Rays slugger Evan Longoria’s head as part of a beanball feud May 30 at Fenway Park. Regardless of the verdict, which may not be rendered until Monday, Farrell said the Red Sox are preparing for Workman to miss one start.

And without a day off until June 26, they will have to replace him in the rotation.

Workman, 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts as the fill-in for injured lefty Felix Doubront, is scheduled to start Sunday against the Indians, then again June 20 at Oakland. He turned in a superb outing Tuesday night, shrugging off a pair of rain delays totaling 93 minutes and allowing one hit in 6 2/3 innings of a 1-0 victory over the Orioles.

If Workman must serve a suspension, it is likely Doubront (strained left shoulder) will be ready to rejoin the rotation. He allowed two runs on six hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings Tuesday night in Triple A, a start that Farrell characterized as “not one of his more powerful outings,” and is scheduled to pitch six innings for Pawtucket on Sunday.

One thing the Red Sox aren’t considering: putting Doubront in the bullpen.

“We’re not crossing that bridge yet,” Farrell said, noting that the makeup of the bullpen has been a strength throughout the season. ...

In what amounts to a move to add depth to an outfield that has been a black hole offensively while also proving a potential alternative to struggling rookie center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., the Sox signed Andres Torres to a minor league contract.

Torres, a 36-year-old switch-hitter who helped the Giants win the World Series in 2010, is recovering from surgery on his left heel last August. He peaked in 2010, batting .268 with an .823 OPS, then hitting .350 in the NLCS and .318 in the World Series. Over the past three seasons, the nine-year veteran has batted .232 with a .651 OPS. ... As expected, Bradley returned to the lineup after sitting out two games to concentrate on his work with hitting coach Victor Rodriguez. He finished 0-for-2, leaving his average at .201.

Red Sox/MLB