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Red Sox 12, Indians 1

Fenway lark

Red Sox have a merry old time in a romp over the Indians, winning third straight at home

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / May 14, 2012
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On a day when the Red Sox strolled past the Indians, 12-1, it only seemed fitting the Fenway Park crowd of 37,611 enjoyed a Mother’s Day Walk in the Park afterward.

The Sox Sunday gave manager Bobby Valentine a present on his 62d birthday by extending their home winning streak to three, improving to 7-11 at home and 15-19 overall.

A 12-hit attack was highlighted by Will Middlebrooks’s solo homer in the third and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run homer in a six-run seventh. The Sox also got a strong start from Daniel Bard as they took three of four from the Indians.

“You keep talking about building on things and Daniel was the starter and his stuff today was not as good as some of the stuff he’s had when he’s been out there,’’ Valentine said. “But he battled through some innings and some situations. And I think that’s a great day of learning.’’

Bard (3-4) went six innings, allowing one run on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Rich Hill, Matt Albers, and Scott Atchison went three scoreless innings, allowing one hit while ringing up five strikeouts.

Bard, who lowered his earned run average to 4.30, was given a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (1-3, 5.40 ERA) faced nine batters in the first and gave up four runs on four hits, with one walk and a hit batsman.

“You know when you score four runs with two outs and nobody on in the first inning, and it’s started off with a walk in a patient at-bat from your third-place hitter [David Ortiz], things are going your way,’’ Valentine said.

Bard struggled in the third inning, loading the bases with one out by giving up walks to Jack Hannahan and Johnny Damon and a single to left by Jason Kipnis. Bard then walked Asdrubal Cabrera, which scored Hannahan for Cleveland’s only run.

“Third inning wasn’t pretty,’’ Bard said. “Just one of those things - a couple of long sits [when] you lose a feel for the release point on the fastball and it’s happened to me before. It’s just a matter of grinding through and finding something you can throw for a strike, and for me it was the offspeed stuff.’’

Bard was the beneficiary of some terrific defensive play, particularly in that third, when Dustin Pedroia fielded a weak grounder from Travis Hafner and flipped to shortstop Mike Aviles at second to start a double play.

After catching Casey Kotchman’s fly ball in the fourth with one out and two men in scoring position, Cody Ross made a strong throw from right that kept Carlos Santana pinned at third.

And Aviles bailed Bard out of the fifth when he made a leaping stab of Cabrera’s hard line shot and doubled off Kipnis at first to end the inning.

“The defense was really good behind me all day,’’ Bard said. “Pedey not trying to tag the guy and flipping it the normal way to get the double play was big. Aviles catching the line drive and doubling the guy off, and Cody making the throw from the outfield.

“Those things really helped me out a lot.’’

Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava hit fifth and sixth in Valentine’s lineup Sunday. They went a combined 4 for 5 with six runs, two doubles, a walk, a home run, and five RBIs.

Middlebrooks opened the floodgates in the first with his sharply struck single to left that scored Ortiz with Boston’s first run. He then greeted Masterson in the third with a solo homer that was struck so hard it bounced off the back wall of the Green Monster seats and back onto the field, giving the Sox a 5-1 lead.

“Will’s liner was exactly what the doctor ordered,’’ Valentine said.

Nava had an RBI double in the first and a two-run double in the seventh.

“That’s awesome,’’ Saltalamacchia said of the contributions from Middlebrooks and Nava. “That’s what’s going to happen throughout the year, you’re going to have guys get injured and you’re going to have guys get called up. It’s not easy to come up to Boston, step in like they’ve done, and do a good job.’’

Saltalamacchia, who was 3 for 4 with five RBIs, delivered the crowning blow in the seventh against former Sox reliever Dan Wheeler when he belted a two-run homer to center. The 11-run margin of victory was the Sox’ most lopsided of the season and their largest since an 18-6 romp over Toronto Sept. 13, 2011.

After having struggled at home before these three straight wins, the Sox made it quite a leisurely - and more fun - Mother’s Day Walk in the Park for their fans.

“We feed off the fans,’’ Saltalamacchia said. “When they’re out there cheering and screaming and yelling for us, it’s addicting. You’re going to start getting pumped up a little bit and get some more runs in. But when we’re not playing well, we’re the first to tell you we’re not playing well.

“It comes with the territory.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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