CLEVELAND (AP) - While the Boston Red Sox got all the attention, the Cleveland Indians quietly went about their business at Progressive Field.
Winning business, in fact.
The Indians finished off a three-game sweep Thursday with a 1-0 victory, thanks to a suicide-squeeze bunt in the eighth inning and a heads-up defensive play in the ninth to end the game.
Cleveland outplayed the team favored by many to win the World Series throughout the series and extended its winning streak to four. While the Red Sox slipped to 0-6, the Indians have bounced back from two lopsided losses to begin the season as they start a West Coast trip Friday night in Seattle.
The Indians are in a three-way tie for first place in the AL Central with Kansas City and Chicago _ it’s early, of course, but it’s also the first time Cleveland has been in first place since May 17, 2008. The Indians are two games over .500 and hadn’t done that since Sept. 22, 2008.
“We did beat a very good ballclub _ regardless if they’re struggling or not,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We won and it was a very well-played series. It wasn’t like they were sloppy and we got lucky. We played good baseball.”
The Red Sox have received national attention for their problems, but Acta is more focused on what his team is doing.
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” he said. “I know we’re playing a high-profile ballclub, a very good one, but I’m glad we’re done because they’re going to go off at any time and beat up on a lot of people. They’re very talented and we played pretty good against them _ our pitching did its part.”
Asdrubal Cabrera’s squeeze bunt produced the Indians’ only run on a day when four pitchers held the Red Sox to four hits.
Fausto Carmona, bouncing back from a rocky start on Opening Day, held the Red Sox to two hits in seven innings. Rafael Perez (2-0) retired both batters he faced while Chris Perez recorded his second save of the series.
The game ended with an alert play by the Indians and a baserunning gaffe by the Red Sox.
David Ortiz drew a two-out walk in the Boston ninth and Darnell McDonald ran for him. J.D. Drew bounced a single that ricocheted off Chris Perez and went to third baseman Adam Everett.
McDonald rounded second base too far, fell down and tried to scramble back to the bag. Everett, who had come in to field the carom, made a snap throw to second baseman Orlando Cabrera that nailed McDonald.
Everett, a shortstop for most of his career, was making his first start of the season at a relatively new position.
“I had no play at first on J.D.” he said. “He (McDonald) came around the bag hard. I don’t know if I could have beaten him to third. I saw him slip a little. I don’t know if I even gave him a pump fake. I made the throw as quickly as I could.”
Everett drew a walk from Daniel Bard (0-2) to start the eighth. Everett stole second and took third on Orlando Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt. On a 2-1 count, Asdrubal Cabrera bunted down the third-base line, scoring Everett.
“You got a guy (Bard) up on the mound who’s tough to handle and throws 100 miles per hour,” Acta said. “We got ahead in the count and we felt he had to throw a ball in the middle of the plate. I trust Cabby a lot. He’s a really good bunter and he got it done. Tough pitch, it went away, but he got a nice bunt.”
Leading off third, Everett was a little concerned.
“It was funny because I didn’t think Cabby got the sign,” Everett said. “Obviously he got it and what a great job by him because I had nothing to do with that play right there.”
Carmona, who allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in three innings against Chicago last week, looked like a different pitcher Thursday. The right-hander struck out four and walked two.
“Fausto was tremendous,” Acta said. “He stayed on top of the ball really well, he had good sink and mixed his pitches very well.”
The Red Sox are off their worst start since 1945, when they lost a team-record eight straight. Boston was swept in a three-game series in Texas to start the season. This is the third time the Red Sox have started out 0-6 _ it also happened in 1927 and 1905.
The Red Sox play their next 10 games at home. Boston plays three games against the New York Yankees, three against Tampa Bay and four against Toronto.
Boston starter Jon Lester gave up three hits, walked three and struck out nine.
NOTES: Indians OF Grady Sizemore, who is recovering from knee surgery, began a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron on Thursday… RHP Joe Smith (abdominal strain) also started a rehab assignment at Akron. … OF Michael Brantley and DH Travis Hafner weren’t in Cleveland’s lineup. Travis Buck started in center field while Shelley Duncan was the DH, his first start of the season.
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