At arm’s length
Masterson holds back Sox in Bedard’s debut
There would be no walkoff magic from the Red Sox last night against the scrappy Indians.
Not with how things went against Cleveland’s ace-in-the-making, Justin Masterson, who would have projected as a solid piece in the Sox’ rotation had he not been traded to Cleveland in a 2009 deadline deal for Victor Martinez.
Masterson overshadowed the Boston debut of lefthander Erik Bedard in the Indians’ 7-3 victory before a Fenway Park crowd of 38,477, the largest turnout in the post-World War II era.
“Yeah, he’s good, and we see his best,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. “I’m sure he enjoys pitching against us. He’s really good.’’
Masterson (9-7, 2.63 ERA) went six innings to record his third victory in four starts against his former team. He allowed three runs on five hits and one walk while ringing up nine strikeouts, including four in the second inning. It was the sixth time in Indians history a pitcher had four strikeouts in an inning, with Chuck Finley being the last April 16, 2000, against Texas.
“The things he needed to work on when he was a young pitcher, getting in to lefties and everything, he can do that now,’’ Francona said. “He’s not timid throwing it in. He can elevate when he wants to. He’s impressive.’’
Bedard took a no-decision, departing after five innings and 70 pitches. He allowed three runs on seven hits, walking none while striking out five.
The Sox dropped into a first-place tie in the American League East with the Yankees, who arrive at Fenway tonight for a three-game set.
“I don’t want to sit up here and say I’m excited after a loss,’’ Francona said of Bedard’s debut. “But actually I was pretty excited about it.’’
Franklin Morales took the loss for the Sox after giving up a two-run homer to Carlos Santana (3 for 4 with a walk, three RBIs, and two runs) in the sixth.
The Indians pummeled five pitchers for 14 hits as the Sox fell to 4-6 against the Tribe this season, losing the season series against Cleveland for the first time since 2006.
Bedard’s outing had to be viewed, in effect, as his second rehab start after coming off the disabled list in Seattle, where he was idled nearly a month after spraining his left knee.
It was certainly a vast improvement over last Friday, when he lasted 1 1/3 innings for the Mariners against Tampa Bay, giving up five runs on three hits and four walks, including three in a row.
“I was a little nervous in the first,’’ Bedard said. “But I just kept my composure and kept throwing strikes.’’
Bedard retired the first three batters he faced, striking out leadoff hitter Ezequiel Carrera with a 92-mile-per-hour fastball.
The Sox gave their new lefty a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Jacoby Ellsbury, a walkoff hero the last two nights at Fenway, led off against Masterson with a sharp single to left.
After Dustin Pedroia grounded to third, Adrian Gonzalez stroked a double off the wall, scoring Ellsbury.
Masterson struck out Kevin Youkilis, but David Ortiz’s single to right scored Gonzalez to make it 2-0.
Bedard, however, was unable to hold the lead, giving up the tying runs in the top of the second. Santana singled through the hole at short, went to second on Kosuke Fukudome’s single to right, and advanced to third on Josh Reddick’s throwing error to the bag.
Santana scored on Matt LaPorta’s infield hit, making it 2-1, and Fukudome scored the tying run on Austin Kearns’s grounder to first.
Jason Donald singled to left to keep the hit parade going, but LaPorta was thrown out at the plate. Carl Crawford hit cutoff man Youkilis, who spun and fired a strike to Jason Varitek for the inning-ending out.
After Masterson retired the Sox in 1-2-3 fashion in the second, the Indians broke the tie by getting a run on three hits off Bedard in the third.
With one out and one aboard, Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a fielder’s choice that wiped out Jason Kipnis (single to center). Cabrera advanced to third on Travis Hafner’s single to right and scored on Santana’s single to right.
Bedard got off the hook after Reddick hit a solo homer with two outs in the fourth to make it 3-3.
Bedard retired the last seven batters he faced - striking out the first three of those - before turning it over Morales in the sixth.
“His pitch count was really OK,’’ Francona said. “But the five ups-and-downs was a lot more than he had in a long time.’’
Morales, who had thrown two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in Tuesday’s victory, quickly was tagged for a pair of runs on a double by Hafner and a homer by Santana to straightaway center, giving Cleveland a 5-3 lead.
After inducing Fukudome to pop to second, Morales handed the baton to Alfredo Aceves, who struck out the two batters he faced, ending the inning.
The Sox put two aboard in the sixth when Ortiz reached on a one-out walk and went to second on an error by Kipnis when he failed to turn a double play on Crawford’s ground ball to third.
Masterson, however, buckled down and got Reddick to line sharply to left and struck out Varitek for the third time in as many at-bats.
Andrew Miller got the mop-up call for the Sox, giving up runs in the seventh and ninth innings before he was replaced by Dan Wheeler.
By then, it was painfully evident the Sox were out of walkoff magic against the Indians.
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.